Could Monta Ellis be the Golden State Warriors’ first All-Star since Latrell Sprewell in 1997? Los Angeles Laker twelve-time NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant “absolutely” thinks so.
The Lakers defeated their in-state rivals Warriors at the latter’s homecourt with a 115-110 victory on Wednesday (Thursday in HK/Manila/Singapore). Ellis scored 38 points and played the entire game while Bryant led all scorers with 39 points in barely thirty seven minutes. It was the Lakers twelfth straight win over the Warriors. Ellis scored 23 points in the first half.
After the game, Bryant endorsed Ellis’ All-Star campaign: “He’s a fantastic player. Offensively he’s complete. He can shoot the long ball, which he’s really improved on. He can get to the rim, obviously, and he has mid-range game.”
The twenty five year old Ellis, who was the NBA Minutes per game leader in 2010, is currently fifth in the league in scoring and is currently the league-leader in minutes played per game ahead the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay, the Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, and the Charlotte Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace. The durable 6 foot 3 guard, starting in thirty eight games, has not missed a game this season.
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson gave his praises to the 6-year pro Ellis: “When Monta became a shooter, besides being a driver, it elevated his game in a way which he became unstoppable on certain nights. His speed and quickness to the hoop are remarkable.”
Lakers forward Ron Artest said of Ellis before tip-off: “He’s gotten better.”
For Ellis to finally get the credit he deserves, should learn how to finish off games by not merely releasing a lot of shots but also playing great defense, which he did against Bryant in the game.
Ellis is the best asset the Warriors currently have. Whether they win or not, at least one thing’s proven: Ellis can fill it up. He has the most trade value in the team and with new owners handling them, could probably have Ellis traded to a better team where he could win and shine.