Monta Ellis is not only leading the Dallas Mavericks in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played.
He also, apparently, has joined Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler in being a leader in the locker room.
“Well, he’s one of the guys that’s showing up and practicing at a high level every day,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said after Friday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “He’s become more vocal the second year.
“He’s helped the younger guys and the guys that are new to the team, and so that’s what he’s doing. It’s great to have another guy like Tyson and Dirk [who] are obvious guys — they’ve been here. To have a third guy step forward is big.”
News that Ellis has become one of the team’s vocal leaders comes in the wake of Nowitzki announcing that the 10-year shooting guard is the team’s go-to player.
“He’s been vocal a lot more this year,’’ guard Devin Harris said of Ellis. “He’s done a good job of encouraging guys.
“He’s a guy who leads by example when necessary. But he’s the kind of guy who plays hard and gives his all out there, and you can’t be more leadership than that.’’
Putting Ellis and leadership in the same sentence is a paradox, considering the warts he’s carried throughout his star-crossed career. But when the Mavs had a chance to acquire Ellis as a free agent in the summer of 2013, the Mavs jumped at the opportunity.
“I thought it was a great pickup the day I found out we had a chance to get him,’’ Carlisle said. “I was shocked we even had a chance.
“I’ve always loved him. He’s been one of the most difficult guys in the last 10 years to game-plan for because of his speed, quickness and multi-faceted abilities, and so I was thrilled to get him.’’
Ellis averages team highs of 20.6 points, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He also is the heavy hitter who carries the load whenever the Mavs need a key basket down the stretch — a role usually reserved for Nowitzki.
“He’s just gotten better every single day over the year and a half he’s been here,’’ Carlisle said. “He’s been a great competitor and he’s established himself as one of the leaders of our team, which has been very impressive too because last year he was new and he kind of felt his way around.
“But this year in training camp and during practices and during timeouts and halftimes and stuff, he’s one of the leaders of the team and it shows with how he’s playing and it shows with how we play. We play pretty well.”
On the court, Ellis showed his leadership skills once again when he scored 13 unanswered points late during Wednesday’s 112-107 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. That came one day after Ellis was just 1-of-11 from the field and scored a season-low two points while playing with a sore right elbow in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Harris wasn’t surprised that Ellis bounced back with a productive game against the Pelicans one day after his worst outing of the season.
“He’s a guy who loves to play the game,’’ Harris said. “He’s a guy that doesn’t like to miss or sit out any games.
“Whether he’s hurt or not, he plays through a lot of different stuff. So it wasn’t surprising he came out and gave the effort that he gave us.’’