Oh, rookie contracts.
Out on the Left Coast is a man who may well be leading the league in points scored per dollar made this season.
He had been playing very solid basketball for the better part of a the last two seasons in the first place.
But over the past month, he has taken his game to a completely new level. In case that isn't enough, he is doing it with an efficacy rarely seen from swingmen, especially those who don't shoot the three well.
You probably know who he is already. But just in the event that you happen to be unfamiliar, you're going to want to get to know Monta Ellis' name and his game, especially given what he has been up to as of late.
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Monta Ellis has spent the entirety of February putting together a string of games that could one day be the stuff of legend.
The Warriors' swingman doesn't shoot the three ball all that well (21.6 percent on the season), and he is smart enough to know it, having shot it just three times this month and 37 on the season.
The part of the court inside that arc, however, has caused no such problems for the third-year-veteran. The numbers for the season are pretty impressive in their own right, as Ellis is averaging 19.1 points, 4.4 boards and 3.8 assists per game while shooting an excellent 53.2 percent from the field.
But if 53.2 percent from the field is excellent, we're not really sure what the word is to describe his shooting percentage over nine February games: 61.4. Astounding and other-worldly might work. Ellis has shot inside of 50 percent exactly one time this month, a 9-for-21 performance against the Celtics. The other eight games in that stretch include a 7-for-10, 14-for-22, 12-for-15 and an 11-for-12 amidst several other impressive performances. Ellis has averaged an absurd 26.6 points per game and put together three 30-plus-point efforts this month alone. He has appeared utterly impossible to stop, and the scoring seems to have picked up the rest of his game as well: He is averaging 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists for the current cycle of the moon, including two nine-rebound games and one nine-assist game. Not shockingly, the Warriors are cruising along at a nice 6-3 pace for the February segment of the calendar.
Ellis has become an excellent slasher and fit for the Warriors' system, as he has the speed and jumping ability to get the rim against just about anybody and to finish once he is there. The 22-year-old product of Lanier High School in Mississippi has come a long way in a very short time from the kid who was drafted 40th in the 2005 draft. His 6-foot-3, 177-pound string-bean-style frame belies the man's ability to explode over virtually any and all comers. He does an excellent job of slithering through the lane or down the baseline and evading defenders or absorbing contact and continuing on his way to the rack when the former is an impossibility. Further, while Ellis isn't a three-point shooter, he has become fairly effective with his work on the lost art that is the mid-range jumper. He loves to use the cross-over-and-step-back move to set up shots from the wings and elbows in particular, and he tends to hit those shots.
In addition to all his scoring prowess, Ellis has a very smooth handle, which allows the Warriors to give opponents different looks offensively by occasionally having Ellis run their sets, even with Baron Davis on the floor. While Davis is assuredly the primary offensive general, Ellis has shown that he can certainly step in and serve as creator for stretches at a time, particularly thanks to his dribble-penetration skills.
This is a man on the verge of making a lot of money this off-season. Of course, it's worth remembering for any suitors outside the Oakland area that Ellis' per game statistics are at least somewhat inflated due to the frenetically paced system employed by the Dubs. But whether or not his numbers look a bit better in Golden State than they would elsewhere, Monta Ellis continues to turn himself into a very solid all-around player, and he remains an near-perfect piece for his current team.
And you definitely don't want to have to guard him right about now.