Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

August 27, 2008
A bad day in Oakland

The Warriors just announced that Monta Ellis underwent ankle surgery today to repair a torn ligament, an injury suffered during a workout in his hometown of Jackson, Miss., and is expected to miss "a minimum of three-plus months."

It's the setback that keeps on giving.

Ellis was heading into a huge season -- the replacement for Baron Davis as the starting point guard and the best player on the team, a guy still needing to prove he can play the position, the big-money player in the wake of the six-year, $66-million contract. And now he's out until about December in a best-case scenario, a huge hit for a team with playoff aspirations and for a player on a major upswing.

Worse, Ellis' game is speed. This cuts to the heart of what has made him one of the best young players in the game and what could easily turn him into an unguardable offensive force. He's got a very good mid-range game, but that all starts because teams have to back off. Play Ellis too close and he goes around you and takes flight to the rim.

(I asked Allen Iverson in February if there's a comparison of Ellis and a young Iverson. Iverson is one of the game's all-time small warriors and Ellis isn't close in that regard, but based on style of play: scoring guards who handle the ball, warp speed, little guys who will blast down the lane and take on the bigs. "No," AI said. "I can't jump like Monta. Nowhere near it.")

Maybe Ellis gets all his acceleration back. Players have come back 100 percent from worse. But it's concerning anytime an injury strikes directly at what makes someone so good, and the Ellis of 2007-08 was so good on offense. (So nonexistent on defense.)

He averaged 20.2 points a game at age 22... and now he won't have any kind of real game stamina or rhythm until Christmas/New Year's at best and maybe closer to mid-season since the Warriors will undoubtedly take a conservative approach with the foundation of a bright future.

So they lose more games than expected? The playoffs were iffy anyway.

Before, the Warriors were in a mix with the Trail Blazers, Clippers, maybe the Nuggets, for the final spot. Now, it would be tough to put Golden State ahead of Portland and L.A. for sure, and maybe even fading Denver.

The real issue is, the development of an important player is now on hold.

Before, the Warriors had an exciting, talented, blooming player. Now, they have Marcus Williams. Davis is gone, Ellis is hurt, and this is the worst thing possible after a tumultuous offseason. Needing stability, they just got more uncertainty.

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