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How Monta Ellis can work in Milwaukee

| March 14, 2012

Category: Bucks Player Features

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Monta Ellis could be a more efficient player if everything breaks right in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

Plugging in Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson in before Monta Ellis seemed so easy. Maggette could collect opponent fouls and single-handedly improve the Milwaukee Bucks free throw numbers. Jackson would move the ball, hit some threes and take it to the rack. Most importantly, he’d be that tough guy leader the team needed in the locker room.

Things didn’t work out in either occasion.

But that doesn’t mean we should give up on Ellis right away. Maybe he isn’t what makes the Bucks a title team, and maybe that drives me crazy, but he could possibly make them a better basketball team. So that’s something.

Ellis was primarily used as a pick and roll ball handler in Golden State. This wasn’t his biggest strength. He’s never had much of a feel for the point guard position. Last season I recall coach Scott Skiles referring to him strictly as a two guard. Fortunately for Ellis, in Milwaukee, two guards aren’t required to run the pick and roll quite as much.

I’m sure this will shift some to cater to Ellis’ needs, but he’ll likely get way more opportunities to spot-up, catch off cuts and out of the post. If Ellis has the opportunity to spot-up more, we could see his 3-point shooting percentage improve. He’s shooting just 21% on 3-pointers as the pick and roll ball handler but 46% on threes in spot-up situations.

I’m serious about the post stuff too. While he doesn’t have the size of Shaun Livingston, Ellis averages 1.07 points per possession this season in post up situations this season, good for fourth in the league. His strength, leaping ability and athleticism has done wonders for him against opposing guards. As they have with Livingston, Milwaukee will likely look to exploit that. (Thanks to @HPBasketball for making this video last night.)

I’m certain Ellis will get his share of opportunities in isolation as well. And if Ellis is isolating, driving and kicking, that could help Brandon Jennings quite a bit. Jennings is shooting 40% and 37% from 3-point range in spot-up situations this season.

Yes, they both get their shots. Ellis is averaging 19 shots per game, while Jennings is at 17. Unfortunately, they average just 21.9 and 19.1 points per game respectively, so neither is exactly the model of efficiency. But if they play off each other and the offense works to their strengths, there could be some opportunity for the two of them to work well together. Athletically, they give Milwaukee their quickest back court that I can remember and this is the most scoring power the Bucks have had since either Payton/Casell or Redd/Williams. They just have to harness it better.

Defensively this could be Skiles’ biggest challenge. Earlier this season he noted that guys with some of the biggest steals numbers aren’t very good defenders. Both Ellis and Jennings can be big steals guys, as both average 1.5 per game. Jennings has been gambling more than at any other point in his career it seems this season. Both have the ability to pick a ball handler, but they need to make sure they fight that urge as often as possible. There are some serious question marks all over the Bucks defensively right now.

The back court could be a disaster there, Carlos Delfino is getting killed pretty often this season and Drew Gooden has struggled. But Kwame Brown could make a positive impact simply by showing up. The Bucks have pretty much gone without a center since Bogut’s been out. If that makes a noticeable difference for even just Jennings and Delfino, it would be a boon for the team’s entire defense.

Defensive issues aside, I wouldn’t rule out Ellis and Jennings both improving with Monta’s arrival in Milwaukee. They have some strengths that could benefit the other quite nicely if things go right.

In Milwaukee, it’s tough to rely on that happening, but we can still hope.

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About the Author ()

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball. He founded it in January of 2009 because he hated his job. It’s like basketball, but with Bucks instead of basket. I know ... I’m sorry. He might come off as a bit negative, but I'm really not so bad. He just wants the Bucks to succeed, so he points out areas where they are coming up short. Someone has got to do it and he's ornery and opinionated enough to take on that task. He isn't sure if this should be in third person or not. Contact him at Jeremy@Bucksketball.com if you must use e-mail.

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  1. Rants, References and Revelations | Hickory-High | March 16, 2012
  1. BUCKSfirst says:

    Everyone just relax. Monta is our first star in a long while. Dont compare him to Jackson, Magette, Salmons, etc. Monta is a legit star in the league who can dribble drive and create for others. Those other guys are on levels below him. He is a SG. Again, shooting….guard. Which SG in the league doesn’t shoot first? If anything, Jennings needs to relax a bit on his shot. Which he might because now he has a legit SG next to him, he won’t feel the need to jack up so many shots. When you play with guys who can create their own, your prone to shoot at the end of the shot clock every time. 

    • coolexplosion1 says:

       @BUCKSfirst Monta is vastly overrated and is not a star. He has not, nor will he ever, make an All-Star game as John Hollinger likes to state. It is not good to have a team without an All-Star.
       
      I agree that Monta is better than Jackson and Maggette by the time they got here, but he is no savior. Keep in mind, Golden State is a run-and-gun offense which averages more possessions than most teams and along with that, Ellis had an amazingly high usage rate on such a team. His stats will certainly drop and he won’t look as heroic in the Scott Skiles walk up the floor and set up system.

      • BUCKSfirst says:

         @coolexplosion1 Take anything John Hollinger says about Monta with a grain of salt. Hollinger hates Monta period. Monta has been snubbed with All-Stars due to the deep pool of guards in the West in the recent years, i.e. Kobe, CP3, Nash, Tony Parker, Deron, etc, etc. 
         
        How is he overrated? No one is calling him D.Rose or Westbrook. Monta is a star and if you disagree with that, you obviously don’t know anything about the NBA. Is he a superstar like CP3 and Rose? No. Is he a scrub like Luke Walton? No. Is he better than the average SJax, Salmons, Mike Mille? Yes. Monta is a Tier 2 Star in the league with the likes of Kevin Martin, Al Jefferson, Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, Andre Igoudala, etc, etc. 
         
        John Hollinger and his PER is garbage. This isn’t baseball. All the NBA players will tell you Monta can play and is legit, run and gun system or not. 

      • Wombat02 says:

         @coolexplosion1  @BUCKSfirst With Mark Jackson as the coach the warriors went away from the Nelson run and gun. Though with Jennings and others on the Bucks right now I think Monta’s minutes and useage rate will go down, which I think should be good for him. He has been run ragged that last couple seasons.

  2. Teddddd says:

    let’s talk about what’s really important here….how stacked are the Bucks in 2k12 now?

  3. MatthewSchwendinger says:

    I can’t agree with this @BUCKSfirst  guy more!!! It’s been a while since I’ve been genuinely excited about a trade in Milwaukee for reasons Jeremy used in the last post (trade history). I didn’t ever like Maggette before he came here and certainly not when he was here. I’ve never like Salmons but he did impress  me for the one run he helped us orchestrate. Monta Ellis brings a lot with him…scoring (first and foremost), maybe a new energy this team needs (though our Energee ladies help fans at games), and pressure off of Jennings.
     
    Remember when Jennings said those comments awhile ago? One of the things he said was that he wants to play with bigger names and if that means a bigger market so be it. Brandon has NOTHING to complain about now. I feel like this is one the biggest names Milwaukee can afford to bring and help out. I really hope they mesh well together. Sorry Carlos, I think you lost your starting job…I hope…
     
    I wonder if were done now… maybe we can get a 2nd rounder for Larry Sanders…I think Udoh kind of replaces him (and maybe even our boy Jon Leuer). I think theres a lot of potential in Udoh as well. Look at who he’s played for…Golden State…I think we can help develop him more than they could. Perhaps he hasn’t been used correctly yet.
     
    Go ahead, call me very optimistic. I’m not holding my breath, but I think this could work if we handle it correctly…that’ll be a BIG task for Skiles (or perhaps a new coach next year).

    • MatthewSchwendinger says:

       @BUCKSfirst @One thing I don’t love about this is that it could make Skiles look like a savior. I’ve been very concerned with him since this season started; he always starts out hot with teams (Phx, Chi, etc) then they dwindle.
       
      Also, who else thinks it’s funny that Golden State is already shopping Jax?

    • BUCKSfirst says:

       @MatthewSchwendinger Good points. I’m not saying there are question marks with Monta, it’s true he does sometimes takes bad shots, but look at the culture he was in. Even though Mark Jackson is there, they have the same team from last year and run and gunned every night. The culture won’t change for couple years or unless brand new players are brought in. I’m more optimistic than pessimistic. 

      • BUCKSfirst says:

         @MatthewSchwendinger Monta in a brand new culture and system is going to help him a lot more than what GS had. That’s for sure.

    • MatthewSchwendinger says:

       @BUCKSfirst I forgot Carlos was our starting small forward, not shooting guard. whoops.