Los Angeles Lakers Can’t Afford to Ignore Wayne Ellington’s Obvious Value

Averaging just 17 minutes off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, Wayne Ellington is a role player whose value is sometimes overlooked.

This may seem like a curious statement during a losing season and about someone averaging just 6.4 points per game, but Ellington is a system player who can come off screens and sink spot-up threes.

And that’s a useful quality in Byron Scott’s hybrid Princeton offense.

At age 27, the 6'4" shooting guard has never been a starter and has bounced around the league, playing with five teams in six seasons. Even so, he has common ties with some fellow Lakers—he and Ed Davis were on the same North Carolina team that won the 2009 national championship.

Ellington’s pinpoint shooting during the title run helped earn him the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player Award, while he and Davis were co-winners of the Most Improved Player honor.

Their paths crossed again during the 2012-13 season with the Memphis Grizzlies. Davis arrived from the Toronto Raptors in a trade just days after Ellington was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The guard’s new coach was none other than Scott. Ellington’s scoring jumped from 5.5 points per game in Memphis to 10.4 over 38 appearances with the Cavaliers.

Jodie Valade of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote about Ellington’s rising production, and the faith expressed by his coach: “He is not a demanding ball hog. He is not a player who turns the ball over often. He is not the kind of guard who will take wild shots from all angles of the court at any time.”

The former collegiate star will never be known as a volume scorer in the NBA, but he still has a pure outside stroke.

That doesn’t mean Ellington’s judicious finesse game always pays off. He can be streaky—shooting 1-of-11 over a three-game stretch, before mak...

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