Monta Driving the Mavericks

By Brian Martin

Monta Ellis arrived in Dallas coming off a season in which he posted the lowest field-goal percentage of his eight-year career (.416) since his rookie year and his lowest scoring average (19.2 ppg) since 2008-09.

Through his first four games in Big D, Ellis has been spectacular, averaging a team-best 25.0 points per game (ranked seventh in the league) on 53.1 percent shooting. Life in Texas seems to be agreeing with him quite nicely.

Ellis has been in attack mode from the moment he stepped on the court with the Mavs. After a solid preseason showing, he has continued to shine as the games have started to count. He is settling for less long-range jumpers and instead relentlessly driving the ball to the basket at every opportunity.

"The lane was wide open, so I just attacked, and when they came over, I passed the ball and that's what we wanted," said Ellis after the Mavericks' 123-104 win over the Lakers on Tuesday night, a game that saw Ellis score 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting and dish out nine assists. "Me being aggressive opened everything else up."

"We obviously had a hard time containing Ellis," said Lakers point guard Steve Nash. "He got into the guts of our defense all night, getting easy buckets, creating easy buckets for his teammates and just really spacing us out with his penetration."

A look at the SportVU player tracking data illustrates this point perfectly.

Ellis leads the league in drives per game, player points scored on drives and team points scored on drives. He is shooting 58.8% on his drives to the basket, good for ninth in the league among players that have at least 20 total drives.

Drives per game
1. Monta Ellis: 11.8
2. Ty Lawson: 10.7
3. Jeremy Lin: 10.0

Player PPG on drives
1. Monta Ellis: 10.5
2. Ramon Sessions: 7.8
3. Eric Bledsoe: 7.5

Team PPG on drives
1. Monta Ellis: 15.0
2. Russell Westbrook: 14.0
3. Ty Lawson: 13.7

Ellis is not only leading the Mavs in scoring, his 5.0 assists per game rank second on the Mavs behind Jose Calderon (6.8) and tied for 25th in the league.

According to SportVU, Ellis averages 11.3 assist opportunities per game, which ranks 19th in the league, and his 12.5 points created off assists per game ranks 22nd.

With Monta in attack mode and Dirk doing Dirk things (20.3 ppg, 53.3 percent from three), the Mavs have exploded out the gate, posting the second highest offensive rating (111.7 points per 100 possessions) in the league and a 3-1 record as they get set to face the Thunder tonight in OKC.