NBA Draft Profile: Monta Ellis
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Lanier (Jackson, Miss.)
Shooting Guard, 6-4, 189
Strengths: The boy can score, that's for sure. He has NBA 3-point range, explosive slashing ability, a swift first step and a lightning-quick release on his jumper. Ellis, who once scored 72 points in a single prep game, averaged a ridiculous 41 points per game this past winter to lead Lanier to the No. 1 spot in the final SchoolSports.com National Top 25. Although he was impossible to stop from scoring at the high school level, he also proved he's a good passer by averaging seven assists as a senior. In addition to his offensive skills, Ellis has the ability and tenacity to be a great defender. In short, he has the skills to become a superstar at the next level.
Weaknesses: Listed at a generous 6-4, Ellis is relatively small to play shooting guard in the NBA. Because of that, most teams are looking to draft him as a point guard even though he doesn't have much experience at that position and struggled while running the show at the McDonald's All-American Game. Although he's amongst the most skilled players in this year's draft, he might not be physically ready for the NBA quite yet. In the Chicago pre-draft camp combine, Ellis finished with the worst cumulative score out of all guards. He failed to bench press 185 points even once, scored low in the lane agility drill and recorded a dismal vertical jump of 31.5 inches. That poor showing followed a disappointing all-star circuit, in which he was a no-show at both the Roundball Classic and Jordan Classic and scored an uninspired eight points on 3-of-10 shooting at the McDonald's All-American Game.
The Lowdown: Just a few months ago, Ellis was considered a lock to be selected in the first round, perhaps even the lottery. But his stock has since plummeted to the point where the second round could be a distinct possibility — especially considering this year's draft is stocked with talented point guards. Since Ellis has little experience running the point, he could benefit from a few years at Mississippi State. However, he has hired an agent and is no longer eligible for college. All knocks aside, the truth is that Ellis can score, and there's always room in the league for a true scorer. Although some mock drafts now have him out of the first round, it's likely that a team at the end of the first round will take a chance on a kid who's a pure scorer with All-Star potential.