Would Golden State Warriors Be Better Off If They Had Kept Monta Ellis?

Scott Burns@Follow @ScottInTheBayCorrespondent IIIFebruary 1, 2013

Jan 26, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) shoots during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.  The Bucks won 109-102.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors recently finished their second meeting with ex-Warrior Monta Ellis and he hit the dagger three to give the Milwaukee Bucks the victory in a close fought game.  With Andrew Bogut just recently returning from the ankle injury, was it the right time to make that move?

Monta Ellis has a lot of value on the offensive end of the floor.  He can stretch out defenses, make dazzling runs to the basket and get his teammates involved in the action.

In one word, he is a playmaker.

The Warriors picked up one of the top big men in the NBA when healthy, who brings a defensive culture that the Dubs had been lacking.  He tried to give it his all for four games, but the microfracture surgery hasn’t healed quickly, but he made a surprising return against the Toronto Raptors.

But could the Warriors have held off trading Ellis and received a better return?

Let’s hop in our 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 from Back To The Future in order to prevent that trade.  Let’s also assume that the Warriors went out and acquired the talent of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry during the offseason. 

Klay Thompson would still be trying to fight his way into the starting lineup unless the Warriors saw an opportunity to use Ellis as their sixth man, the way Jack is being used now.  Thompson can shoot, but he wouldn’t be in the current stage as the guy who can stop and pop, but also drive to the basket for an easy hoop.

Coach Mark Jackson would run a similar offense to what they have going now, but they would use Jack and Stephen Curry at the guard spots and rotate Ellis in at shooting guard and even small forward when using a quicker and faster lineup.

Out of all shooting guards, Ellis is currently ranked fourth in PPG, first in assists, second in steals, but is also ranked third in turning the ball over and number of shot attempts. As you can see from this clip, Ellis knows how to score the ball.

Ellis takes the jab step to get by James Harden of the Houston Rockets and drives along the baseline, flies into Omer Asik going backwards and lofts up a layup off the glass.  Like I said before, Ellis is a playmaker.

The Warriors would continue to be a prolific offensive team, but I don’t think the defensive message would be as clear as it is this season.  Ellis is not known for his defense and to his detriment, he is someone who could take over the clubhouse.

Ellis is an average defender at best as he lacks the size and wingspan for a shooting guard and does not have quality fundamentals.  He bites on too many pump fakes and doesn’t break down into a defensive stance. 

In this clip, it shows Ellis standing there pretty much watching the game on defense.  He chases Curry who drives right by him and then just stands near the top of the key waiting for the ball to come to him. 

As you can see, it is tough to count on Ellis to provide consistent effort on the defensive end.

However, when he is focused, Ellis is quick to the ball and he finds his way into the passing lanes to get almost two steals per game.  He can also find his way into some rebounds.

The bottom line problem with this scenario is that the culture of the team wouldn’t change.  Coach Jackson would be making progress, but he wouldn't be making the same amount of progress that he has made so far this season.

David Lee would probably not be an All-Star as he wouldn’t be getting the amount of touches that he currently is receiving. He would be putting up numbers that would be marginally lower than what he is producing now, but with a team record closer to .500.

Taking all of that information in and having a team that was sort of co-existing together, the Dubs would have the opportunity to use the same trade package of Ellis to acquire an Al Jefferson from Utah or Bogut at a discounted price.

The team is built for a big man and having either Jefferson and/or Bogut is what the Warriors would need.  With Jefferson, there is less of a chance for injury, but he is shorter by  a couple of inches and doesn’t bring the same ferocity on defense.

So, it is time to fast forward to the present.  Andrew Bogut has returned and is slotted to play in every game except the back-to-backs, which would set him up to possibly miss key games at Oklahoma City and at Dallas as provided in the tweet from Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe):

Coach Jackson can change the rotation of games so that Bogut would miss the Houston Rockets game and be available for the Thunder.  I doubt he would have Bogut sit against Memphis, so he could play against Dallas.

During Bogut’s surprise return, he scored 12 points and swatted away four shots, yes, four shots. He had a plus/minus of plus-11 in 24 minutes.  He also had eight boards and two helpers.  He was a force by altering the shots he didn’t block and the Dubs outscored the Raptors 62-34 in the paint.

As you can see from this clip, Bogut commands both respect and presence as the Warriors center.  On the first play of the game, Bogut gets the feed from Klay Thompson, backs into position and comes across for his signature left handed hook.

His ability to really affect the game with his hard work and effort is an invaluable skill that the Warriors wouldn’t have from Ellis.

Yes, there is the injury scare associated with Bogut, but his injuries have all happened because of freak accidents.  They are not re-occurring and they are not located in the same spot.

Ellis is a great and acrobatic offensive force, but the Warriors have been lacking a big man since Robert Parish and Joe Barry Carroll.  Bogut fills that need and he reaffirms Coach Jackson's defensive message.

This is the new era of the Golden State Warriors.


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