Monta Ellis (pronounced "MON-tae"), born October 26, 1985, in Jackson, Mississippi) is an American professional basketball player who plays the point guard and shooting guard positions for the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. His nickname, "The Mississippi Bullet", is a nod to his home state and his speed on the court.
Ellis' attended Lanier High School in Jackson where he was named Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year 2005 (along with Greg Oden) and a USA Today All-American. He had committed to Mississippi State University before opting for the NBA in 2005. During his four high school years he averaged 28.9 points, 4.9 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game at a shooting accuracy of 78.0% in free throws, 46.1% in field goals and 43.5% in three-pointers. His last year at Lanier High School was his best, averaging 38.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 4.5 steals per game, while shooting 80.0% on free throws, 46.0% on field goals and 48.0% on three-pointers. He scored a career-best 72 points in a game against Greenwood High School. As a junior, he scored 42 points in a 80–75 loss against renowned high school basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, then the #1- ranked prep-basketball team in the country by USA Today, and their star future-NBA forward, Josh Smith, in front of a capacity crowd at the Marshall County Hoopfest in Benton, KY. His 42 points was the most ever scored against Oak Hill by an opposing player. In his senior season he scored 42 points in a game against South Gwinnett High School in which he was guarded by Louis Williams, at the Coliseum. He led Lanier to a 129–16 record in his four seasons as a starter (2002–2005), winning the 4A state championship in 2002 (33–5) and 2005 (35–2, ranked #12 nationally by USA Today) and runner-up finishes in 2003 (31–4) and 2004 (30–5). He scored a total of 4,167 points in his prep career, making him second all-time in Mississippi history. He received first-team all-state recognition from the Clarion-Ledger in all four of his high school seasons and was named Mississippi's "Mr. Basketball" by the paper in 2005.
Golden State Warriors
Drafted by the Warriors in the second round (40th overall) in the 2005 NBA Draft, Ellis was inserted into the starting lineup late in the 2005–06 NBA season, along with fellow rookie Ike Diogu. He scored his first points on December 7, 2005 against the Phoenix Suns on a 3-point shot. He was highly regarded as one of the players to watch during the 2006 summer league, but was unable to compete due to knee problems. After receiving very little playing time as a rookie, Ellis improved immensely coming into his second year and began to show great potential. During the 2007 NBA Draft, the Warriors traded Jason Richardson and second-round draft pick Jermareo Davidson to the Charlotte Bobcats for lottery pick Brandan Wright. The trade freed up about 10 million dollars in salary cap space for the Warriors with which they could sign Ellis as well as fellow young star Andris Biedriņš to extended contracts and allowed Ellis more time at the shooting guard spot. In his third season, Ellis became one of the Warriors' top performers, becoming a clutch player and pulling them through close games. He is often referred to as "the future" of the Warriors franchise.
On July 25, 2008, Ellis signed a six-year, $67 million contract extension with the Warriors, making him the highest paid player on the team.
2006-07 season highlights
On January 24, 2007, Ellis hit his first career game-winning shot as time expired to give the Warriors a 110–109 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
On January 31, he was selected to play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge during the NBA's All-Star weekend. He scored a dunk-filled 28 points in a win for the sophomore team on 13 for 16 shooting. He was edged out by David Lee and Chris Paul for the game's MVP honors.
On February 24, Ellis recorded a career-high 13 assists against the Los Angeles Clippers.
On April 26, he received the NBA's Most Improved Player Award after averaging 16.5 points per game, a substantial increase from his average of 6.8 points per game as a rookie, edging out Sacramento Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin by three votes and beating teammate Andris Biedriņš. Ellis's points-per-game average compared to the previous season (6.8 to 16.5), an increase of 9.7, beat out Martin's increase of 9.4 (10.8 to 20.2).
2007–08 season highlights
On January 24, 2008, Ellis scored a career-high 39 points (13-for-18 shooting from the field, 13-for-14 free-throw shooting) against the New Jersey Nets, exactly one year to-the-day of his first ever game-winning shot, which also came against the Nets.
Monta Ellis became the ninth guard in league history to average at least 20 points per game while averaging 60 percent from the field in a single month after making 60.2 percent of his shots in February, 2008. He was honored after the last game of the month by assistant coach Sidney Moncrief, one of the eight other players to achieve the feat; the other guards to perform this feat were John Stockton, Ricky Pierce, Earl Monroe, Jim Paxson, Fred Brown, Sidney Moncrief, Brad Davis, and Steve Nash. Monta Ellis also scored over 30 points in the month of February for four games straight.
On August 26, 2008, it was revealed that Ellis had torn a ligament in his left ankle. Ellis underwent successful surgery on August 27 to repair a torn deltoid ligament in his left ankle, after he informed the club that he had injured himself working out. Chris Mullin revealed through an interview that Ellis received his injury during a pick-up game in a gym within his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. However, as was suspected during weeks of speculation, he was injured in a low-speed moped accident. Because dangerous activity such as this violates Paragraph 12 of his player contract, the Warriors organization opted to suspend Ellis for 30 games, the approximate number of games he expected to miss. In addition, the Warriors maintained the option to void his contract in the event his recovery had been unsuccessful. Initial reports stated that he would be out for at least three months from the date of his ankle surgery, although because of the suspension the earliest Ellis could play in a game was December 26. Ellis returned from his injury on January 23 in a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and scored 20 points with three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.
After starting slowly in February, Ellis took several games off, and showed marked improvement in March, during which he averaged 23.5 points per game, shooting 49% from the field and 87% from the free-throw line. Ellis opened the month of April by scoring a career-high 42 points, while also adding nine rebounds and nine assists in an overtime win against the Sacramento Kings.