Last week, Monta Ellis signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, who likely viewed him as a consolation prize after missing out on so many big-name free agents. Ellis going to Mavs was likely a disappointment for the Sacramento Kings, who were among the teams pursuing the former Milwaukee Bucks guard. But while the Kings may be licking their wounds right now, the fact of the matter is they dodged a bullet here. While Ellis is a very talented scorer, there are a lot of gaping flaws in his game. He’s a terribly inefficient scorer and in recent years, his shooting as declined drastically While there are certainly some attractive things that Ellis brings to the table, there are also a lot of drawbacks and the Kings are likely better off without him.
For one thing, Ellis would have made no sense in Sacramento. This team already has an epidemic of selfish scorers. Marcus Thornton is a “shoot first, ask questions later” sort of player if there ever was one and DeMarcus Cousins is one of the least efficient big men in the league. Meanwhile, the Kings are still trying to develop Jimmer Fredette, who’s ability to hit 3s seems to be the only part of his college game that is working at the NBA level. Frankly, this team is a giant mess already and the last thing they needed is Ellis around, bricking jumper after jumper and increasing the culture of selfishness on a team that isn’t exactly known for passing in the first place.
Furthermore, bringing in Ellis would have been detrimental to the Kings’ first-round draft pick, Ben McLemore. McLemore and Ellis play the same position, and if McLemore were to spend the early years of his career sitting on the bench, playing 15 to 20 minutes a game, it would prevent him from fully flourishing as an NBA player. McLemore is considered to be one of the best players in this draft — and one of the few with All-Star potential — and the Kings were very lucky to find him still on the board at No. 7. Furthermore, McLemore has the chance to be a better player than Ellis. After eight years in the NBA, Ellis essentially is what he is — a solid scorer who is also extremely inefficient. He’s not going to cure the problems that have ailed his career at this stage in the game. McLemore is a young player who has yet to define his NBA game. The Kings have the chance to mold him into one of the better shooting guards in the game. Quite simply, the Kings are better off with McLemore as their starting shooting guard than Ellis. He has a higher ceiling and he hasn’t picked up any nasty habits.
Ellis isn’t necessarily bad player — he’s great at putting points on the board and he’s a surprisingly good passer for someone who takes so many questionable shots. Still, he struggles to get to the free-throw line and his weak defense doesn’t do him any favors. It’s quite possible that he could thrive in Dallas, especially since he’ll get to play with Jose Calderon, who is a pass-first point guard and complements him very well. Sacramento wasn’t the right place for him, though, and while the Kings front office may have wished he had signed, they’ll likely be better off in the long run.