Drafted with the 5th pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, by the Denver Nuggets. LaPhonso Ellis had a solid Rookie season averaging 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, which earned him a spot on the 1992–93 All-Rookie first team. His stocks would rise as in his second season he put up impressive numbers of 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds. It appeared that the Nuggets had found a player who they could build a team around for the future.
Cruelly in his 3rd season Ellis was struck down with injury and only managed 6 games. He would play a total of 6 seasons at the Denver Nuggets, with his most impressive season coming in 96-97 averaging 21.9 points and 7 rebounds a game. Ellis certainly made some shock waves at Denver, forming a good combination with Dikembe Mutombo, that helped the Nuggets experience some playoff success.
Ellis would be traded to the Atlanta Hawks for the 1999 NBA season. His first year there his stats dropped considerably, scoring 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Unfortunately Ellis could never rediscover the form that had him touted as an exciting prospect in his early years at the Denver Nuggets. His last few seasons saw him play for the Timberwolves and Heat before he retired in 2003. Ellis finished with career stats of 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. The career of LaPhonso Ellis certainly had some great early years in Denver, I remember his hype as he entered the league, he even found himself on the classic arcade game ‘NBA Jam’ as a player option along side Mutombo. Ultimately perhaps injuries contributed to his career falling away, but either way Ellis had some good solid years in the NBA.
Ellis wore the numbers #20 and #3 during his career.