How Monta Ellis personifies being a Warrior.
When Monta Ellis steps on a basketball court, you know he’s going to play to the final whistle. Whether or not he or the Warriors are playing well, he’s likely to give you his best 40 minutes. He could be struggling with a nagging injury or playing through pain, but he’s been there for his teammates and the fans every game. Multiple times this season, he’s suffered a significant injury only to come back and play well in the teams’ next game. He’s been playing through knee and ankle pain all season long and has been the very definition of a warrior:
“A person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.”
There’s no doubt that some of the things he does on the basketball court are truly amazing. He has the ability to make plays that few or no others in the NBA can make. He’s exciting, and he’s been the heart and soul of this Golden State team. He’s been so good this year, that he’s actually begun to earn MVP chants from the home crowd on a nightly basis. Ellis will finish the regular season as the NBA’s leader in minutes per game, but due to his most recent injury, LaMarcus Aldridge is likely to pass him in total minutes played before the season ends.
Monta will miss the Warrior’s final two games due to a concussion suffered from a fall in the final minutes of the Sacramento game Sunday night. He was already struggling with a leg injury in that game which had limited him to a season low 26 minutes before crashing to the floor in the 4th quarter. So while we didn’t see Monta in the game at Denver, and we won’t see him in the team’s final game at home against Portland, there’s something to be said about the season he’s already had.
It’s without a doubt been the best season of his career. It’s been a year where he’s showcased an improved outside shot and smarter decision making both as a scorer and a passer. All of this is highlighted by his higher shooting percentages and assists, which are complimented by less turnovers.
Where he’s grown the most, though, is as a leader. Going into last season, he voiced displeasure with the selection of Stephen Curry in the draft, saying he didn’t think they could play together in the back court. It initially lead to tension in the locker room between the two players, which made growing as a team tough. However, the two guards started to click at the end of last season, and this past off-season, Monta invited Steph to his wedding. Since then, the two have bonded, and Monta has expressed his intention to be the leader of the Warriors leader for years to come.
He’s shown the ability to be a good leader with his toughness, his on-court presence, and much improved maturity. Of any player in the NBA, he may have made the biggest off-season changes, regardless of whether or not it shows up in his own stats.
Even with that improvement, there has been a continued criticism of his play in regards to the type and amount of shots he takes, as well as his ability to be a good defender. While there’s something that can always be improved, it seems bit much to ask one player to improve in so many ways in just one year. The two biggest issues he’s had this season are also a product of who he’s been on the court with. The Warriors are still not a very good team and have very few players with the ability to create their own shot. Their offensive game plan also isn’t quite where it needs to be for the team to be effective. The same things goes for defense, as the Warriors are still one of the worst in the league.
Without looking ahead into the future, I’m not sure how anybody could be unhappy with the way that Monta Ellis has played this season. He has been the Warriors best player, regardless of what some would try to make you believe with a few select statistics. Monta more than passes the eye test as the Warriors best player, and if you can’t argue something without stats, there really is no point. Stats will help you back up your point, but they mean nothing without actually seeing the issue on the court.
But honestly, the greatest thing about Monta isn’t the way he plays, or the way he’s grown. It’s his die hard loyalty to Golden State and us fans. He’s dedicated to leading this team to a winning record and the playoffs, and possibly beyond that. It’s that attitude that makes this my favorite Monta quote:
“I’m a Warrior. I’m going to always be a Warrior.”
It’s not the statement itself so much, as the fact that he actually has me believing he wants to stay with this team, even after seeing Baron, J-Rich, Stack Jack, Harrington, Barnes, and Pietrus all get out and do better for themselves elsewhere (Baron did better for himself off the court). He personifies what it means to be a Warrior, of both the battle-tested and Golden State variety.