What, you thought we’d neglect Monta Ellis just because he was traded? No, we’re always checking box scores out of curiosity (and an addiction to fantasy sports). So while many will forget Ellis exists because he’s been traded to one of the most nondescript franchises in professional sports — a once-proud team that has won a playoff series in only one of the past 22 years — we’ll check in on Monta from time to time.
The early winners of the trade between the Bucks and the Golden State Warriors looked to be Milwaukee no matter what happened. A motivated Ellis and Ekpe Udoh’s plus/minus wizardry trumps Andrew Bogut in a walking boot and Richard Jefferson any day, right?
For Warriors fans who feared they’d be stuck watching Ellis go off for 25+ ppg and multiple playoff series wins in the Eastern Conference, taking a look at the early returns for Milwaukee may cheer you up a little.
Monta Ellis (6 games): 34 mpg, 34.2% FG, 18.2% 3PT, 70.4% FT, 2.5 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.2 TO, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 12.2 ppg.
Ekpe Udoh (6 games): 18 mpg, 36.0% FG, 00.0% 3PT*, 100% FT, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.5 TO, 0.5 spg, 1.3 bpg, 3.3 ppg.
*Yes, Udoh actually attempted a three (the first of his career), against Portland. Maybe the shot clock was about to expire.
After averaging 21.9 ppg with the Warriors, Ellis has failed to reach the 18-point plateau he hit in his first game with his new team, when the Bucks beat his old team by 22. Last night was hopefully the low point for both Ellis and the Bucks, as he scored 4 points on 2-of-14 shooting in a loss at New York.
Before the trade, the Bucks had won five of their previous six games, their only loss by 2 to Chicago. Since the trade, Milwaukee (22-27, 2.5 games behind current No. 8 seed New York) is 3-3. Not bad, right? Sure, if you’re impressed by road wins over the Warriors (tankmode), Blazers (tankalicious) and Bobcats (don’t need to tank anymore, since they’re 7-40 and terrible).
The losses were all against probable Eastern Conference playoff teams, and the Bucks were soundly beaten in each game. 100-91 at home to No. 7 Boston, 125-104 at home to No. 5 Indiana, and 89-80 last night against a No. 8 Knicks team (with a 25-25 record) playing without Amare Stoudemire or Jeremy Lin — a loss where Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined to go 8-for-36 from the field.
Milwaukee’s in the same situation as the Warriors were with Ellis and Curry — since Jennings isn’t taking fewer shots, the Bucks’ offense is dominated by an undersized backcourt. Before the trade power forward Ersan Ilyasova was emerging. He broke into the starting lineup on Feb. 17 and averaged 19.1 ppg and 10.2 rpg over the last 15 games leading up to the trade. Since the trade: 11.2 ppg and 7 rpg. He’s like the anti-Klay Thompson, although to be fair Ilyasova may still be getting over the illness that kept him out of action at Golden State.
Ellis isn’t necessarily the equivalent of basketball poison. It takes time to adjust to a new coach, new teammates and a new city. The Bucks also have to adjust to Ellis’ game, as well as Udoh’s. The worry for Milwaukee is they’ve traded for a player in Ellis who needs a very specific situation to ensure success. He needs a big, strong point guard who can defend both guard spots. He also needs a center behind him who can allow Ellis to freelance on defense, jump passing lanes and get out in transition. The clear problem is that the Bucks have none of these things.
Scott Skiles is a coach who prizes discipline and defense, so he’ll probably appreciate Udoh’s game. He won’t allow Ellis to do what he likes to offensively — dominate the ball — because Jennings already does that. Whether or not Ellis gets pouty or crawls into a shell, we don’t know. Who knows, maybe Ellis will grow to appreciate being Jennings’ wingman, and focus more on defense and efficiency than volume shooting. Yep, sounds likely!
In short, since what Udoh does usually flies under the radar, this trade is probably going to be considered a disaster on Milwaukee’s end if Bogut comes back healthy and plays a full 2012-13 season. Warriors fans found it hard to cope with losing Ellis, a player many fans thought should’ve been named to the All-Star team. It’s going to be tough to find that kind of love in Milwaukee, especially if he keeps playing like this. After spending almost seven years with the Warriors, don’t expect Ellis to last anywhere near as long in Milwaukee.