Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sports: Why Monta Ellis Belongs in the All-Star Game

By Chris Middleton
Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:08 PM

With a quick crossover to the left and a pull-up fade-away that rattled in with less than one second remaining in the Warriors' 110-108 win over the Indiana Pacers last night, Monta Ellis made a brief but definitive case why he deserves to be in this year's NBA All Star Game. The game-winning shot wasn't an isolated event, as the Warriors' guard has been playing like an all-out beast the entire year, but it’s still unclear if he has a legitimate chance at making it to the All Star game. There’s really no reason he shouldn’t, though.

In his sixth NBA season, Ellis is third in the league in both scoring and steals, ahead of notable fan-favorites LeBron and Kobe, and is poised to make his first ever All Star appearance. There are only three days left for All Star Game balloting, however, and things aren't looking good for Ellis: Standing in his way is the majority of voters who are either terribly uninformed or disgustingly trendy, casting their votes for the same old players year after year regardless of what’s actually happening on the court.

Even with all the love Ellis could get from the Bay, his chances of being voted an All Star are somewhere on par with a Tea Party candidate being elected president in 2012. There’s simply not enough national attention given to Ellis, and people would rather vote for names they recognize. For example, All Star voters are in the process of making Yao Ming the highest vote-getter among West Coast centers, despite a stress fracture that sidelined him for the season after playing just five games.

Ellis, on the other hand, hasn't even broken into the top ten in votes for West Coast guards — which is shameful, considering how much more Ellis has accomplished this season (not to mention how much more fun he is to watch than Ming). He still has a shot of getting voted in by the West's coaching staff, however, which Warrior fans are crossing their fingers for since he was snubbed by George Karl last year.

The game-winner last night should open eyes to Ellis’ dramatically improved 47 percent shooting this season, which has erased “volume-shooter” from his critics’ vocabularies. The guy has become a knock-down shooter and proved that he can be trusted with the game on the line.

The other hurdle for Ellis is his team's record, which at 18-23 isn’t doing him any good. Despite the record, the Warriors are making a push for the playoffs, winning three straight games and nine of their last 14. When it all comes down to it, though, team records shouldn’t matter. The All Star Game is about the best players, not the best teams, and right now Monta is playing at the top of his class.

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