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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WEEK 5, DEBATE 2: Luol Deng vs. Monta Ellis



Who would you rather have this season: Luol Deng or Monta Ellis?

"Defense wins championships. And defense, more than anything else, is what makes Luol Deng the better choice over Monta Ellis for this upcoming season. Deng is an excellent defender; Ellis is not. Both of these men played nearly every minute of every game this past season: their stamina and durability is incredible! However, when Ellis plays defense, he is lazy and makes poor decisions. While he gets a lot of steals--which sounds good--he goes for too many of them and often misses, leaving his man open for an easy trip to the hoop! While one of the quickest players in basketball, on defense, he gets beat off the dribble by slower players. On the other hand, Deng uses his size, mobility, and effort to shut down some of the best players in the game, including LeBron James in last year’s Eastern Conference Championship Series."

"Luol Deng is a fantastic chess piece, no doubt. But even your praise for Deng is damning. All you’ve got for him is his defense, which admittedly, is pretty great, but it’s not enough to carry a team. We know Deng’s ceiling: he’s already played for a championship-caliber team and plays with an MVP winner. Ellis doesn’t. He’s not an elite defensive player (not even close), but he plays next to Stephen Curry, David Lee, and Dorell Wright. Bill Simmons could drop 40 on that group. Ellis is an unfortunate product of a poorly put together team that is unable to hide his defensive shortcomings. While Deng may be an excellent chess piece, Ellis is a scoring star. Surround him with a group that plays to his strengths and hides his weaknesses, and we’re looking at one of the most polarizing players in the league in a new light."

"Fantastic chess piece? We’re talking basketball here and basketball is a team sport; it is a very good thing to be a “fantastic piece” of the team that wins the game! Luol Deng helps win games—defensively and offensively.While I emphasized Deng’s superior defense, it was to show the most dramatic difference between Deng and Ellis. That doesn’t mean Deng’s offensive game isn’t excellent.  He is a solid jump shooter, free throw shooter and—this past season, at Coach Thibidou’s request—became a 3-point shooter. The result: his TS% rose to 54.9%.  Ellis’s TS% was only 53.6%. Don’t get me wrong, Monta Ellis has a sweet shot, but he takes too many ill-advised long jumpers early in the shot clock. He scores a lot, but seldom wins games for his team. Luol Deng has more basketball smarts than Monta Ellis. I don’t think you can teach that."

"Your argument in favor of Deng is excellent. He’s exactly the type of basketball player championship squads need. But, Deng’s potential is limited. We know exactly what he is. He improved his three point shooting last season, but the rest of his offensive game has been relatively stagnant for five years. We’ve seen what he looks like on a championship-caliber team. Who is Monta Ellis? We don’t know. He’s never played on a team able to hide his defensive shortcomings, nor has he played on a team even remotely as good as the '10-11 Bulls. Have you seen the way Ellis is capable of carrying a team’s offensive load, how he singlehandedly wins games with his prodigious offensive skill? He’s a phenom, a player capable of performing on-court miracles. This goes beyond statistics and empirical data; this is a debate about basketball. Monta Ellis is capable of magical basketball things."

Who won this debate? Go to the right sidebar to cast your vote!

1 comment:

  1. Both of these players are so fascinating to me, because one could argue that they are both byproducts of the teams they play for. Like Ellis' rep said, is Ellis truly one-dimensional, or is it just that his team's system only brings out his offensive talent? Likewise, could Deng be a greater scorer if he played for a team like Denver or Golden State rather than a slow-paced team like the Bulls?