In the Bonus: Ellis doing more with less

In the Bonus: Ellis doing more with less
March 17, 2014, 1:45 pm
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Monta Ellis has been an explosive scorer for as long as he has been in the NBA, often relying on a high number of shots to get his points. But this season has been different even if Ellis' scoring numbers look similar to past seasons.

He's scoring at about the same rate he did last season, but he's doing so with fewer shot attempts.

Ellis becoming a more efficient scorer is one of the reasons why the Mavericks (40-27) have been able to keep themselves in the thick of the postseason race out West.

They come into tonight's game against Boston (22-45) currently seeded seventh with a half-game lead over Memphis (39-27) and a 1.5 game lead over ninth-place Phoenix (38-28).

Dirk Nowitzki has continued to cement his place among the NBA's all-time greats while veterans Vince Carter and Shawn Marion continue to hold their own.

But the Mavericks' ability to remain competitive now and going forward, will require some of their younger players like Ellis, to continue to improve.

His defense still needs work, but his scoring has shown significant growth this season.

For starters, he's doing a better job of taking the shots that he should based on his skills and not forcing things.

Ellis is ultra-quick off the dribble which allows him to get into the lane and cause havoc for most defenses.

Last season, 45 percent of his shots taken were in the paint.

He's up to 53.3 percent this season, a bump fueled by him taking fewer threes (22.8 percent of his shots were threes last season, down to 15.1 now) and mid-range jumpers (a slight dip to 31.5 percent, from 32.2 last season).

Ellis' overall shooting is up to 45.3 percent, from 41.6 percent last season. And he's doing this while taking fewer shots.

He averaged 17.2 per game last season, but is taking just 15.2 now. It's his fewest shot attempts since 2007-2008 when he deferred to veterans Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson in Golden State.

Despite fewer attempts, Ellis has been able to keep his scoring average (18.7 now, 19.2 last season).

He is a player who has been in the league for eight-plus seasons, but the 28-year-old still has room for improvement.

“So he’s still very young and he has upside as a player," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. "He hasn’t gotten to his threshold as a player yet. And that’s really good for us.”