MILWAUKEE — Monta Ellis has been asked multiple times this season when the dangerous offensive player everyone saw in Golden State was going to show up in Milwaukee.
Ellis kept shrugging off the question, saying he was just playing within the offense. But since the trade deadline, something has clicked.
Maybe the weight of numerous trade rumors are finally off of his mind, but Ellis is averaging 25.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game while shooting 51.0 percent from the field in the 10 games since the trade deadline.
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His shot selection has been vastly improved and he’s doing what he does best: drive to the basket and create.
“That’s one thing I did evaluate when I went back home for the (All-Star) break,” Ellis said of his shot selection. “I was taking too many jump shots, I was settling. I wasn’t driving like I used to. I’m just trying to get back in to it and like I said, picking my spots and take the drive and dishing off to the big guys. Larry and those guys, when they are dunking and making shots down there, you are either going to get me or you are going to stay on him.”
Since J.J. Redick was added at the deadline, Ellis has had more space to operate and has seen more time at point guard. The conscious effort to take better shots is noticeable and has made the Bucks a better team. Prior to Milwaukee’s two losses this week, the Bucks had won six of eight since the deadline with Ellis leading the way.
“To me, his legs look better than they did early in the season,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “If you watch his jump shot, his elevation has increased. What do you credit that to? Maybe he’s feeling better, but I’m not sure exactly why that is.
“Certainly, in the last two or three weeks he has looked more energetic out there and is playing with a great burst of speed and a lot of intensity on both ends of the floor. When you do that and have his talent, good things are going to happen to you.”
It’s unusual for a player’s legs to get stronger as the long season wears on. Was the trade deadline impacting Ellis’ play on the court? It’s hard to tell, but he certainly is a different player since it has passed. With the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract after the season, Ellis was naturally linked to multiple trade rumors.
The Bucks have many decisions to make in the offseason, especially in the backcourt. With his shooting accuracy hovering around a career-low 40 percent for most of the season, Ellis probably was hurting his value on the open market.
If he continues his torrid stretch for the season’s final 18 games, Ellis will make himself a valuable commodity. But for the time being, the improved version of Ellis mixed with the other weapons on the roster makes the Bucks a dangerous team if they get it all clicking consistently.
“It’s all on my teammates,” Ellis said of what’s changed with his game. “J.J., Mike (Dunleavy), Brandon (Jennings), Ersan (Ilyasova) coming in and hitting shots, and it opens the floor up. If we do that as a team, it’s hard for any team to guard us. I’m just taking what the defense gives me.”