First things first: I want to apologize for the blog break. Work and family responsibilities combined with a bad cold this week to put me out of commission. I’m back now and will try to get back on a more regular blogging schedule.
It seems like I’ve written about this a lot lately, but I want to get back to the relationship between Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
What has happened to Curry? After a January in which he played like the best rookie in his class, and was honored accordingly, Curry has come back to earth a little bit. In the past three games, Curry is averaging 11.3 points, four assists, two rebounds, 0.7 steals, and is shooting 32.4 percent from the field. This after averaging 19.1 points, 5.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds and 48 percent shooting in January.
Why the sudden change? Has Curry hit the rookie wall? He does play a lot of minutes, so that could be an explanation. But I have a more interesting scenario: I wonder if Ellis’ return to the lineup is messing with Curry’s head and messing up his game. I know this will be far-fetched to some, but check out the stats. When Ellis missed three games (well, two-plus games) with an injury in January, Curry responded by playing the best three-game stretch of his career. Check out the stats he put up in those games against the Nets, Suns and Kings:
28 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.3 steals, 45.6 field goal percentage, 46.1 3-point percentage.
Since Ellis’ return, Curry’s game has slipped noticeably. In the five games since Ellis came back, take a look at Curry’s stats:
14.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 41.9 field goal percentage, 43.8 3-point percentage.
Besides the 3-point accuracy and the assists, Curry has certainly hit a rough patch. Could it be because of Ellis? I don’t know yet.
I do think that when Ellis is in the game, the entire Warriors’ offense revolves around him, which is understandable because he is their best player. I’m not sure that it’s good for the Warriors though. Ellis hasn’t shown the ability to put the team on his back and carry them to consistent wins. If you’re going to have one player dictate such a large part of your offense, he needs to do more than put up impressive numbers; he also needs to consistently lead his team to victory. Ellis has shown a stunning ability to do one, but not the other.
The player Ellis is most often compared to is Allen Iverson, and the comparison is certainly justified, if all you look at are statistics. The difference between Iverson and Ellis that can’t be ignored is that Iverson willed his team to more wins than the team’s talent merited. Looking specifically at his Philadelphia playing years (the first time), Iverson suffered from a serious lack of talent around him. But he was such a dominant figure, both in his play, his personality and his leadership, that he made the 76ers one of the best teams in the NBA. I’m still amazed he got that 2001 team to the NBA Finals.
Ellis may never become that player. He is certainly talented and he is very fun to watch. But if he’s your team’s best player, I don’t think that team will ever be a winner. Which begs the question, should the Warriors try and trade him before the trade deadline? His trade value has never been higher. If the Warriors can get a good, young shooting guard, a little cap relief or a draft pick for Ellis, I think they’d have to think really hard about making that trade.
Back to Curry. I think Curry has the talent to be one of the best point guards in this league — not for a couple years — but he does have that potential. I think as long as the Warriors pair him with Ellis, a guard who has to dominate the ball to be effective, it will impede Curry’s progress. In addition, the Warriors are playing Ellis at point guard, which is taking Curry away from playing his natural position. It’s not a good fit. I think the Warriors saw what kind of player Curry can be when he is running the offense during Ellis’ three-game absence. I don’t know if Ellis’ return is completely responsible for Curry’s recent slump, but the numbers make an interesting argument.
What do you think? Do you like Curry and Ellis together? Do you want the Warriors to trade one of them? If so, which player goes? What kind of trade offer would you consider fair value for Ellis (or Curry)? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.