Jan 18, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Monta Ellis (8) drives to the basket during the first half against the New Jersey Nets at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Are the Golden State Warriors Better Without Monta Ellis?

The Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks have almost identical records, but the cores of their rosters are very different. The Mavericks second best player this year is one Monta Ellis, a former core piece of the Warriors.

The Warriors shipped Ellis to Milwaukee in March of 2012 in exchange for Andrew Bogut, who looks poised to be both the Warriors center of the future and today, but this season Ellis looks poised to make his first ever All-Star team and is playing the best basketball of his career.

News flash: this season Monta Ellis is more than just a chucker. This season he is a more efficient scorer. He is exceeding his career averages in field goal percentage; three point percentage, free throw percentage, and assists per game. Ellis actually averages more passes per game than Indiana Pacers superstar Paul George, and only 1.2 passes fewer per game than LeBron James. If you want to study a true chucker at work, than look at Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith. Smith averages only 38.4 passes per game which is more than seven passes fewer than George. Last week, J.R. took 17 three pointers in a game. He made only three. Can you how many times a player has taken 17 or more threes in a game since 2008 and who the player was?

Including last week, such a feat has happened only three times all by J.R. Smith himself. Reason 100,000 why the Knicks are struggling.

Ellis has been the league’s best player when attacking the basket. As of Tuesday night, he has 300 total drives which leads the league. He has scored 60 points more than any other player on drives and leads the league with 13.8 drives per game.

But even with Ellis’ impressive and surprising production this season, the Warriors are still better off without him.

Klay Thompson is the main reason why. Thompson has shown flashes of the player the Warriors hoped he would become when they traded away Ellis. Thompson this season is exceeding his career averages in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and three point shooting percentage. Thompson today is a better fit in the Warriors offensive then Ellis would be. The Warriors current roster is constructed to dominate from behind the arc and stretch the defense from the perimeter in. Compare the shot charts of Ellis verses Thompson.

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While Ellis is a better player around the rim than Thompson, that difference is slim compared to their differences from three point range. On the right side of the three point arc, Ellis is shooting a mere 26.67 percent, Thompson is shooting 43.08 percent.

Thompson’s three-point ability is key to the Warriors success, whereas Ellis’ inability to shoot threes led to his failure to stick with the franchise he originally made his name.

On top of Thompson’s increased production, center Andrew Bogut, the center piece the Warriors received in return, has been incredibly productive this season. Bogut is averaging more points and more rebounds this season. An his shooting percentage has jumped to above 60 percent compared to his 45 percent shooting percentage last season.

What’s the most important kind of ability? It’s reliability. And this season Bogut has played in 28 of the Warriors 29 games. Bogut played in only 32 regular season games this season, a total he has nearly surpassed. If Bogut is able to stay healthy for most of the regular season, then the Warriors will get the most out of Bogut.

While neither Klay Thompson nor Andrew Bogut will likely make the Western Conference All-Star team this season and Monta Ellis has at the very least a punchers chance, the Warriors are still much better with their current roster than what their roster was and could have been with Ellis still in the Bay Area.

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