I’m referring, of course, to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks are one of those teams, like the (pre-Patterson for TRob trade) Houston Rockets, that are impossible for the Warriors to beat. A nightmare matchup problem, as evidenced by their 3-0 record against the Warriors since acquiring Ellis and Udoh for… yeah.
As constructed by Joe Lacob, the Warriors are the worst defensive team in the league 1 through 3. Curry and Thompson among the players with the slowest foot speed at their position. Harrison Barnes… well, we have ample evidence that he can’t guard anyone in this league, although the why might be a mystery.
Now, take the worst defensive 1-3 in the league and ask them to guard a Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and JJ Redick lineup. You see the problem.
As with James Harden, Mark Jackson’s solution was to attempt to double team and trap Monta Ellis at the three point line, to get the ball out of his hands. And as did James Harden, Monta Ellis made the Warriors pay with his extraordinary passing ability. Even with his favorite target Ersan Ilyasova out, the Bucks were able to put enough shooters on the floor for Ellis to find. (And just as an aside, I’m not sure that it’s the best strategy to double great passers like Harden and Ellis when they’re surrounded by competent three point shooters and a big man who can dunk. For the same reason that Nellie never tried to double Steve Nash. You have to live with them beating you. Why let them get the whole team involved? Well, in this case at least, there may have been some politics involved.)
Stir in 30 minutes of the Andrew Bogut Myth, and it’s game over. And it will remain game over until the Warriors go back to the drawing board.
Monta Ellis: See anything you didn’t like about that performance? Anything for the haters to hate on? Too selfish? Inefficient on offense? Defense on Klay Thompson a problem?
Since I’ve spent a lot of time already this season clearing up myths, it’s time that I tackled anew the many myths surrounding Monta Ellis. Particularly since the Warriors spin machine has been very actively disseminating them this week through their pet media members.
And boy, are there a lot of them. Myths, I mean:
A selfish scorer: Ellis’ 5.7 assists/gm are second in the league to James Harden among shooting guards. He averaged 6/gm in his last season with the Warriors.
I’ve never understood this particular criticism. Do his critics actually watch the games? Unlike Kobe Bryant, if Monta Ellis gets a teammate open, he will pass him the ball. With a perfect pass.
Inefficient offensively: Take a look at Monta’s shooting percentage since JJ Redick joined the team on Feb. 23, against a very tough schedule. Over 50% in each of the last four games alone.
I’ve got news for the statphreaks. As I have been saying forever, Monta Ellis’ shooting percentage correlates directly with the quality of the scorers he has around him. Earlier this season, with Iyasova benched, and Dunleavy injured, and literally no other shooters on the team, Monta and Jennings were playing 2 on 5, through double and triple teams. Now, since Redick joined the team, and Dunleavy got healthy, Ellis is finally able to play with a spread floor. It doesn’t prevent the double teams, as we saw last night, but it means he no longer has to force his offense.
I’m sorry to throw a wrench into your plans to reduce players to algorithms, statphreaks. Sorry to explode your universe. But Monta Ellis is very soon going to make you all look like fools. Perhaps as soon as this season. But certainly, as soon as he gets himself to a contender.
Monta Ellis is one of the best offensive players in the league. A player who requires the attention of at least three defenders at a time. A floor warper, whose misses can even be efficient, in that they leave easy offensive rebounds against a completely out of position defense. An utterly unselfish, and fabulously talented, passer. A player who with the ball in his hands, and a completely spread floor, is virtually unguardable.
Was holding Stephen Curry back: This is an utter joke. What held Stephen Curry back were Joe Lacob’s rookie coaches, Keith Smart and Mark Jackson. Period.
Has Stephen Curry ever played better than he did in the second half of his rookie season under Don Nelson? No, he has not. Was Monta Ellis holding him back then? No, he was not. Because Don Nelson had the balls to put the ball in Curry’s hands and make him the man. That’s all it took.
Is Monta Ellis holding Brandon Jennings back? Did he hold him back in this game that you know he wanted as badly as any game, ever?
The Warriors are currently playing Jarret Jack alongside Curry in the second and fourth quarters. When Jack is in the game, isn’t he usually the point guard? Isn’t the ball usually in his hands, particularly when the other team’s best defender is on Curry? Isn’t he frequently looking for his own shot?
Is Jarret Jack holding Curry back?
Is a bad defender: Did you see what he did to Klay Thompson in this game? What about to James Harden and DeMar DeRozan a week ago?
Here’s another little riddle for the statphreaks. Between We Believe and his trade to the Bucks, Monta Ellis played on a team devastated by injury and poor management, with no defensive center and no defensive wings behind or around him. Do you think that affected his ability to play defense? His energy to play defense? His desire to play defense?
Don’t answer that. I don’t want to melt your computer.
Is too small to pair with Stephen Curry: You mean like Jarret Jack?
You mean like Brandon Jennings and/or JJ Redick?
You mean like Nash and van Exel?
You mean like World Champions JJ Barea and Jason Terry? Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars? The Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe backcourt that destroyed Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain in the Finals, twice?
You mean like that?
Even if Bogut never plays effectively again, Joe Lacob’s trade of Monta and Udoh for Bogut and Jefferson helped the Warriors, because it was addition by subtraction:
This is one of the biggest myths, and quite frankly, stupidest lines of thought I have ever encountered. And as the Andrew Bogut fiasco gets worse by the minute, it’s currently being sold to Warriors fans with ever increasing desperation by Joe Lacob’s minions in the media. Kawakami in the Merc. Some clown I’ve never head of in the Chron. And even Tom Tolbert at KNBR. I can only guess that Tolbert enjoys his working relationship with Lacob, and would LOVE that color job some day.
I’ve dealt with the “holding Curry back” issue above. Another variant making the rounds is that trading Monta allowed Klay Thompson to flower.
Wrong. What trading Monta did was allow Harrison Barnes to be drafted (after Joe Lacob induced Mark Jackson to disgrace himself by shaving points in NBA basketball games, and won a coin flip). And it allowed Harrison Barnes to be played. (Note I’m leaving out all mention of the word “flower.”)
If Monta Ellis were still a Warrior, Klay Thompson would be playing his natural position, small forward. All game long, instead of just in the second and fourth quarters. Take a moment to think about that for a second. Is there a team in the league that could guard a Curry-Ellis-Thompson tandem? No, there is not.
How about that tandem with David Lee? Could anyone guard that? Throw in a couple middling priced defensive centers, a Kosta Koufos, for example. Or Omer Asik, whom Lacob passed on in free agency. Or Samuel Dalembert, whom Lacob passed on, twice. Or #30 pick, and Warriors saviour, Festus Ezeli (whose draft rights could have been purchased for $500k to $1m). Throw in a cheap defensive power forward, say EKPE UDOH on a rookie contract. Throw in some nice, cheap two-way defensive wings, like Brandon Rush. Or Mickael Gelabale, whom the TWolves just picked up for peanuts out of Europe. Throw that in, and what do you have?
You have a team every bit as good as the masterfully assembled Denver Nuggets. If not better.
But let’s backtrack and play along with the Warriors apologists for the moment, and pretend that Monta simply HAD to be traded. Because he and Curry actually hated each other. Or the Warriors were tired of dealing with his off-court issues. Some such nonsense.
If Monta HAD to be traded, would that make trading him for two years of the corpses of Bogut and Jefferson a good deal?
Yes, if watching the corpse of Bogut destroy the chemistry and effectiveness of this year’s Warriors team is a good thing.
Yes, if hanging $23 million in dead contracts around the Warriors necks, for two years, is a good thing.
Yes, if there was zero possibility of the Warriors making a better trade, in the offseason. Is that really a fact? That the Warriors couldn’t have made a better trade for Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh than $23 million in dead contracts and a tanked season?
Does opportunity cost count for anything? The fact that the Warriors foreclosed any other opportunity to make a better trade by making this wretched trade — does that count for anything?
Bill Simmons has recently discovered, and confirmed from multiple sources, that Joe Lacob was offered James Harden in this past offseason. He was OKC GM Sam Presti’s first call. (Here’s the link. To find Simmons’ discussion of this, scroll down to the #6 worst contract in the NBA, Richard Jefferson. It’s right after the #8 worst contract in the NBA, Andrew Bogut.) According to Simmons’ sources, what OKC wanted was Klay Thompson and a pick. Joe Lacob passed. He wouldn’t do it unless OKC agreed to take back either the Biedrins or the Jefferson contracts. OKC hung up on him.
Why did Lacob refuse James Harden? He did it because he’s cheap, and he had painted himself into a corner by taking on the horrible Bogut and Jefferson contracts. He knew he couldn’t afford — or simply didn’t want to go over the cap — to pay James Harden after this year.
By trading Monta and Udoh for Bogut and Jefferson, Joe Lacob passed on James Harden.
Passed on someone currently proving he’s the third best player in the NBA.
Passed on a Curry and Harden backcourt.
So before you smoke that bowl of opium Joe Lacob is desperately trying to sell you about the Monta Ellis trade, put a little pinch of that in the bowl first.
And tell me what your dreams are like.