You were on fire. You ended your rookie season playing heavy minutes and putting up stupid numbers. You turned an easy ROY win for Tyreke Evans' quotable statline into a close race with a second half that was historically impressive in its own right. You earned Nellie's trust and showed that you had the potential to run an NBA offense at a high level. You were poised to come into 2010 as the facilitator, as the guy who could run the team and put up 19 PPG with a .600 TS%.Well you got your 19 PPG (just about). You got your .600 TS% (roughly). But you weren't running the team. Somewhere between the end of last season and the start of this one, something happened. Keith Smart happened. "Do you" happened. You became the repository for the organization's "tough love". Instead of being given free reign to develop your point guard skills in what was widely seen as a transition year (albeit with an improved roster), you found yourself as the scapegoat in Keith Smart's re-election campaign. Smart knew he had one year to make an impression, to get enough wins to keep his job. He chose Monta Ellis to hitch his wagon full of weird sayings to, instead of the team's best player. Ellis was his workhorse and he rode him (pause) to exhaustion, and to the team's detriment. Your turnovers were scrutinized, your defensive lapses punished, your shot selection criticized, all while other players were free to commit those same errors with impunity (and with far less promise of a future payoff).
You were far and away the best point guard on the roster, but the offense wasn't running through you. You were one of the best fourth quarter performers (as much as a thing like that matters) in the league, but you saw those minutes going to a journeyman without jumpshot (or any defense) because he was gritty and dove on the floor a lot at practice. You were at the mercy of a man who thought Acie Law gave the team a better chance to win.
With the offseason approaching, you'll probably have to endure paradoxical trade rumors that laud you as the Warrior with the most value despite being the only Warrior put on a leash-- but endure you will. You've endured all season, and you'll continue to endure. You didn't pout, you didn't complain, you didn't quit. You probably knew as well as anyone how your development was being stunted by a ridiculous run at respectability with such a flawed roster, but you were a professional and did what was asked of you (even if it was pants-on-head ridiculous) without a sideways comment.
And for that, I say: thank you; thank you for being a star I enjoy cheering for. While I appreciate Monta's story and his drive, the fact remains that his current incarnation is not an asset on the basketball court (and hasn't been one in years. Oddly enough, he's finally playing with a lead guard who could facilitate a return to that level of productivity, but alas). Those who understand what it takes to win games know that you're the closest thing this franchise has to resembling a cornerstone. And I hope our next coach knows what he's looking for when he watches the tape.