The 2014 NBA All-Star Game is just about a month away from tipping off in New Orleans. However, we likely won’t be seeing some of the usual suspects at guard on the Western Conference squad. Kobe Bryant has been out for most of the season, while Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook will likely miss the game due to injury.
But why not Monta Ellis?
I certainly don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Ellis should at least be considered for one of the guard spots in the Western Conference. Two of the starting spots will go to Parker, Harden or Curry with the other coming off the bench so there’s no way Ellis will be a starter. But I don’t see why he can’t be selected to his first All-Star appearance coming off the bench.
Throughout his time with the Warriors and Bucks, Ellis has been regarded as a volume shooter and inefficient player by many NBA pundits. However, for the Mavericks, this Monta Ellis looks very different than the Monta Ellis of old. He is averaging 20.2 points per game and is leading the Mavs in assists with 5.8. The most significant thing is that in Ellis, the Mavs finally have a legitimate scoring sidekick beside Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki is playing phenomenal basketball at the age of 35, and his 40-point outburst against the New Orleans Pelicans last week is proof of that. However, there have been nights this season when Nowtizki simply doesn’t have it. Anyone watching can tell that there are nights where his legs and shot simply isn’t there. On those nights, it’s been Ellis that has taken the reins for the Mavs and become the alpha dog. It is refreshing to see nights where Dirk plays Robin and someone else takes on the roll of Batman. The fact that Ellis has become the type of player that can be explosive and put up big numbers, but still plays within the team should deem at least some All-Star consideration.
As I said earlier Curry, Parker, and Harden will be traveling to New Orleans to play in the All-Star game, but the other guard spots are up for grabs. One name that many people like to throw out is second year Portland guard Damian Lillard. The 28-9 Trail Blazers have been one of the surprises of the NBA this season and Lillard has been one of the biggest reasons why.
At 21.4 points per game and 5.7 assists per game, Lillard is becoming one of the elite guards in the West.
But, from a statistical standpoint, are he and Ellis really that far off? Not really. Lillard is only averaging 1.2 points more than Ellis and their assist average is just about the same. In fact, the only big advantage that Lillard has over Ellis is three-point-shooting. Lillard is an unbelievable talent and there’s no question that there are plenty of All-Star appearances in his future, but keep in mind that there are plenty of other young and talented pieces in Portland that has made that team what it is. That is something Dallas doesn’t have.
There are also others like Denver’s Ty Lawson and Golden State’s Klay Thompson that will be looked at to be a reserve for the West, but there’s no arguing that Ellis has played like an All-Star this season and should be in the mix with those players
He’s putting up All-Star numbers and is helping a team that was so inept at the guard spot last year try and get back to the playoffs. So why not Monta Ellis?