Monta Ellis may be the poster guy for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's "Fallen Angels'' theory.
It was just a year ago when the Mavs settled for Monta at a discount rate of about $8 mil a year with the bar set so low that all he really needed to do to get a gold star around here was be more committed than predecessor O.J. Mayo. And then ... voila! Monta's rep as a chucker with a shrunken BBIQ was gone, replaced by a maturing young man who completely bought into coach Rick Carlisle's guidance and became the second-best player on a 49-win team that almost pulled off a first-round miracle against San Antonio.
"We gave them a dogfight when we were an underdog,'' Monta says. "That's something to build on this year. And we will.''
Last year, Monta was, as usual, a 19-points guy. But he did it in an unusual way, taking better shots than his rep would suggest, and fewer, too. Ellis reverted to his glory days as a kid in Golden State, when the priority was exploding to the rim, working off screens with Dirk, and doing something more than playing passing lanes on defense.
And now, with training camp open (and Monta entrenched with the White team in practice, joining Dirk, TY, Parsons and Jameer) it's time to add more tools to the toolbox, Monta tells DB.com:
A teardrop? I think I'm right in suggesting that would be a killer. A softer touch with some use of the bankshot? That can work. And something even grander than improved ball-handling as the third of "Monta's 3 Secret Things''?
"I'm trying to be really sound and really explosive at the same time,'' Monta tells me, and as the Ellis secrets unfold themselves, that does sound like something to build on.