ESPN Wisconsin

Milwaukee -- meet Monta

Mar 13, 2012 -- 8:31pm

By DREW OLSON
dolson@espnwisconsin.com

While many area basketball fans were gazing at their brackets Tuesday evening, the Bucks were busy engineering a blockbuster trade that sent Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to Golden State for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and the expiring contract of injured Kwame Brown.

For casual Bucks fans, two questions spring to mind:

What will happen to Squad Six?

Who is Monta Ellis?

We can't speak to Bogut's handpicked hooligans, but we can offer some help with Mr. Ellis. He joined the NBA right out of high school and has developed into one of the more dynamic scorers in the league. He's 26 years old. He's 6 feet 3 inches and 185 pounds. He's lightning fast. He's creative. He will give the Bucks some scoring punch, but is not known as an energetic defender.

Here is what ESPN insider John Hollinger said about Ellis leading into the trading deadline: 

"A fun little tidbit from the new stats gizmo at NBA.com: The Warriors are plus-15 this season when Steph Curry plays and Monta Ellis are on the bench but minus-119 when Ellis plays and Curry is on the pine. The season before, they were plus-23 with Curry and no Ellis but minus-191 with Ellis and no Curry. The season before that, the tally was plus-122 with Curry and no Ellis and minus-89 for the opposite.

So, for the three seasons those two have been together, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 160 points when Curry plays and Ellis sits despite being badly outscored overall. And, in the opposite situation, the Warriors have been outscored by 399 points.

In other words, if you're going to deal one of the two, you deal Ellis in a hot second. That's especially true now because nobody wants to deal for Curry until we know what's going on with his constantly sprained ankles. Although I think Ellis is overrated, he definitely has improved, and I can understand why Orlando in particular -- a team desperate for perimeter shot creators -- would want to take a look at him.

Ellis makes $11 million each of the next two seasons, but, as his tenure with Curry shows, he has to be paired with a big, solid defensive point guard who can cross-match with him. Even that is only a partial solution for the real problem: He just needs to play harder on defense.

I suspect the Warriors overvalue Ellis based on his gaudy scoring stats, and that, for that reason, he won't be dealt. Also, Golden State is probably feeling good about itself now that it's back on the fringes on the playoff race. Nonetheless, it's inevitable that the team will need to break up this backcourt for more frontcourt help. Ellis is a tough player to fit on a lot of rosters, but, with the right one (again, such as Orlando), he could be a very positive addition."

The Bucks will pair Ellis with Brandon Jennings to form a dynamic backcourt of undersized and sometimes inefficient players. Ellis has two years and $22 million left on his contract, but has an "opt out" clause after next year that will allow him to be a free agent.

A couple other tidbits:

  • Ellis was a second-round pick (40th overall) in 2005.
  • Ellis reportedly has a solid relationship with Bucks assistant coach Sidney Moncrief, who was an assistant at Golden State a few years back.
  • As a junior in high school, Ellis scored 42 points in a loss to top-ranked Oak Hill Academy. No player had scored that many against Oak Hill.
  • Ellis was once suspended 30 games by Golden State because he suffered an off-season ankle injury that required surgery. Though it was initially reported that he was hurt in a pickup game, he later confessed that the injury was the result of a moped accident.
  • On Feb. 7, Ellis scored a career-high 48 points against Oklahoma City, but it wasn't enough to prevent a 119-116 loss.
  • The Bucks play the Warriors Friday night at Golden State.

Udoh, who is 24, could end up being the key to the trade if Ellis isn't dealt in the next 48 hours and exercises his player option after next season. Udoh, who grew up in Oklahoma and played in college at Michigan (two seasons) and Baylor (one season). The sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, he fits the prototype of the young, athletic bigger man that Bucks general manager John Hammond has been seeking.

He went through pregame warmups on Tuesday and did not comment to reporters after hearing about the trade.

Return to: Drew Olson Blog

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