Golden State Warriors: Will it Be Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry?

Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry may be the highest scoring backcourt in the NBA, but they’re the least effective when it comes to winning. The Golden State Warriors have owned the NBA’s second-worst winning percentage during the last 16 years, and Ellis and Curry as a backcourt, will struggle to put a halt to that streak. The Warriors’ owner, Joe Lacob, will have to make a decision for this team to move forward: trade Ellis, or trade Curry.

During the 2009-2010 media day routine, Ellis surprised media members by claiming that a backcourt that includes himself and Curry just won’t work.

“You just can’t (play the two 6-foot-3 guards at the same time),” Ellis said. “They (the team) say you can, but you can’t.”

During that time, Ellis hadn’t experienced playing alongside Curry. There was media speculation as to whether Curry was a point guard or a shooting guard. By the end of the season, in which the Warrior missed the playoffs, the debate was settled that Curry was a point guard and Ellis would assume his normal role of scoring at will as pure shooting guard.

However, the Ellis-Curry backcourt is one of the worst defensive backcourts in the NBA, and a big reason why the Warriors have won only 36 games this year, good for eleventh in the Western Conference.

Ellis, in particular though, has trouble on the defensive end. Most shooting guards in this league range between 6’5” to 6’7”. Ellis is only 6’3” and has a very slim build, that suits his quickness attribute on the offensive end, but is a liability on offense.

Ellis also is a gambler on defense — constantly going for the steal– which creates a whole collapse on the defensive end for the team. Big men like David Lee, Ekpe Udoh and Andris Biedrins, have to rotate over to Ellis’ guard, leaving their own man open — creating easy scoring opportunities for the opposition.

Curry also struggles on the defensive end by primarily reaching in. The Davidson product is also 6’3”, but seems to be playing his natural position. Most point guards are his size, and he can matchup pretty well against them. Curry has a bad habit of reaching in on the defensive end, particularly on fast breaks, where opposing players are usually looking for the three-point play, or the “and 1” play.

However, Curry has one attribute that may entice Lacob and Warriors’ GM Larry Riley to keep him: his vision as a point guard.

Point guards don’t just come along these days in the NBA. It takes many years to produce a point guard that a franchise can call their star player. Without a point guard, there is no direction for a franchise. And that’s exactly why Curry may have the upper hand in this situation. Scoring can be duplicated, but point guards cannot.

Ellis is a prolific scorer that can help a poor offensive team like the Philadelphia 76ers or the New Jersey Nets (Imagine a Deron Williams-Ellis backcourt), but not the Warriors. The Bay Area based team are in dire need of a defensive shooting guard that possesses superior athleticism, can score efficiently and does not dominate the ball in doing so. A player like Andre Iguodala would be ideal for the Warriors.

The most important thing for Warriors management to notice is that this Ellis-Curry backcourt will just not create a winning Warriors team. They’re too small and too poor defensively. It either has to be Curry who packs his bags and moves out or Ellis.

There’s just no way around it.


Mike Massa, “Monta Ellis: Playing with Stephen Curry won’t work,”