How about a plus-minus of -20.2?
That's what Monta's sporting right now. When he's on the court for us -- which is 82% of the time, tied with Gerald Wallace for first in the league -- we get outscored by 7.8 points per 48 minutes. Only truly awful teams get outscored by that much per game; some seasons go by without any team sucking to that degree. Whenever Monta, our star, our rock, our beacon of hope, has been out there this year, we've played like a 20-62 team.
"That's depressing," you think, "but we do suck. It'd be even worse if Monta wasn't busting his ass out there." Here's the thing: when Monta's not been on the floor, we've outscored our opponents by 12.4 points per 48 minutes. The record for point differential in a season is held by the '71-'72 Lakers, the Jerry West/Wilt Chamberlain 33-wins-in-a-row world-champion Lakers. Their point differential was... 12.3. When Monta's been on the bench, we have outscored our opponents at a pace that would make us the most dominant team of all time.
When you combine the two numbers -- -7.8 with Monta, +12.4 without him -- you get a total plus-minus of 20.2. Monta's plus-minus is more than twice as bad as Durant's much-discussed one last year. Monta's plus-minus is, in fact the worst of any NBA starter by far. The five worst plus-minuses for guys who've played at least 50% of their team's minutes so far:
1. Monta Ellis, -20.2
2. Gilbert Arenas, -15.3
3. Jeff Green, -13.6
4. Shane Battier, -12.2
5. Derrick Rose, -11.4
Some players on this list, no question, but there are pretty big question marks about all of them. Arenas is still not 100% and getting torched on D. Jeff Green can't rebound or defend enough to hang at his position. Various metrics suggest that Battier's losing a step and not the impact defender he once was. Rose is calling himself out for poor play. Most of these guys are getting tons of crap from their respective fanbases. And yet we see Monta as our big bright spot, as a guy taking it to the next level, and he has a worse plus-minus than any of them.
What the hell is going on here?
Let's start with this: that +12.4 sans-Monta number is absurd. Monta Ellis is not the only thing holding us back from being a 68-14 team. A couple big garbage-time runs in games we lost by 30 are distorting this data; in the 154 non-Monta minutes we've played so far (not many, because he's played so much), the team has scored 127.1 points per 100 possessions, an unsustainably high number. The +12.4 is nothing to worry about...
...but the -7.8 is, as it bespeaks some big offensive problems. Last year, for all of our injuries, dysfunction and lack of playmaking, we scored 109 points per 100 possessions. (Monta's contribution to this was negligible, as our offense with him was about the same as our offense without him.) This year, when Monta's on the court, we're scoring 103 points per 100 possessions. Even if you call shenanigans on the 127.1 PPos of our non-Monta lineups, there's no way you can reconcile that number all the way down to 103; with Curry aboard, there's no reason to think it'd be any be lower than 109. Our offense has genuinely functioned better when Monta's been off the floor. And while Monta's looked pretty great defensively at times so far, overall there's no evidence he's moving the dial at that end... we've given up only 0.6 points more per 100 possessions when he's sat. As with so many of our numbers thus far, that may have to do with our weirdly small lineups. Still, if you're looking for proof that Monta makes a significant difference on defense, there really isn't any. We have been a really, really bad team with him on the floor.
The calls to trade Monta were frequent and loud as recently as a couple weeks ago. Those calls have subsided in the wake of Jack's departure and a couple of spectacular performances on Monta's part, and I'm glad... now is no time to trade him. But his wretched plus-minus numbers have not changed. Since Jack left, here's how we've fared:
@CLE: -8 in 46 minutes with Monta, +2 in two minutes without
@BOS: -16 in 40 minutes with Monta, +2 in eight minutes without
POR: +14 in 48 minutes with Monta
@DAL: +8 in 48 with Monta
@SA: -21 in 44 minutes with Monta, +7 in four minutes without
LAL: -27 with 35 minutes with Monta, -6 in thirteen minutes without
IND: +12 in 42 minutes with Monta, +7 in six minutes without
DEN: -24 in 30 minutes with Monta, -4 in eighteen minutes without
HOU: -2 in 47 minutes with Monta, 0 in one minute without
ORL: -8 in 48 minutes with Monta
In this post-Jack, new-look world, since the Warriors became The Monta Ellis Show -- including his masterpiece in Portland, his two 40-point games, everything -- we are -72 with him and +8 without him. In every single game where he's sat, we've been better on a per-minute basis with him on the bench. We've been outscored by 8.1 points per 48 when he's been on the floor, actually doing worse than before... now we're playing like a 19-63 team.
The sample sizes are tiny. The guy's tired. He only sits when things aren't competitive, so of course the other guys will do well in garbage time. His numbers will be fine when the bigs get back. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But there is cause for concern here. The Monta Ellis Show, as entertaining as it's been, has not been working. And if we're going to pin our hopes and dreams on this guy, we would do well to figure out exactly why we're struggling so much when he plays.