The Indiana Pacers Need to Give Monta Ellis the Damn Ball

Monta Ellis hasn’t been able to find his mark for the Pacers this year, which begs the question —What is the answer to the Pacers Monta Ellis problem?

Monta Ellis has had a truly disappointing season for the Indiana Pacers this year.

After a down year last year, many were expecting (or at least hoping) for a bounce back campaign from Ellis. Instead, what we’ve seen is a player who looks like he may who may be entering the downswing of his career.

This season, Monta is giving the Pacers 7.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 27 minutes per game. He’s shooting 41.7% from the field and 28.8% from deep. He’s also committing 1.9 turnovers per game, 3rd highest on the team behind Paul George and Jeff Teague. Monta was recently moved to the 2nd unit and was expected to provide some much-needed scoring and stability to that unit.

Since going to the bench, Ellis has been… even worse.

Playing alongside another ball-dominant guard in Aaron Brooks, Monta’s averages drop even further — 6 points, 38.7% shooting, 22.2% from deep. In both units, Ellis has been a secondary ball handler, ceding responsibilities to Jeff Teague and Aaron Brooks. He’s never been an above average shooter from behind the arc, and playing off the ball accentuates that weakness. The Pacers have are likely looking at another 2 years after this one of paying Monta more than 11 million dollars to play basketball for them, and it would be in the team’s best interest to try to help Monta out of this. How can they do that? To me, it’s clear:

How can they do that? To me, it’s clear:

Give Monta the damn ball.

The Pacers need to see what Monta has left. He’s probably not a starter quality player on either end of the floor, but it would be really surprising if he couldn’t thrive on a 2nd unit.

Right now, playing next to Aaron Brooks most nights, he’s struggled. Brooks is a nice vet minimum pickup, and can definitely get points, but he clearly lacks the ceiling (and the contractual obligation) that Ellis has. Instead of having Brooks as the main ball handler in the 2nd unit, the Pacers need to give Monta the ball and tell him to be Monta Ellis.

If Monta can have it all with the 2nd unit, this Pacers team is instantly better for it. The bench is routinely giving up leads and digging deep holes for the starters to climb out of, and the Pacers just aren’t good enough to do that on a lot of nights.

What the blue and gold need to do is to trust in Monta Ellis’s talent and experience, and let him do what they signed him to do —score the ball. If he regains some of his old form, the Pacers come out far ahead. If he doesn’t and can’t improve on what he’s shown this year, then the Pacers know what they have in him, and know what to do with their rotations.

Either way — it’s time for the Pacers to find out.

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