Prospect Examination: Tyler Ennis

Posted by Clevis Murray on Monday, June 23, 2014 with No comments

"I'd like to thank Coach [Jim] Boeheim, the coaching staff, my teammates and the amazing fans of Syracuse for the opportunity to play at a great university like Syracuse," Ennis said in a statement as he declared for the draft. "I feel this experience has helped prepare me to fulfill my lifelong dream – to play in the NBA."

Tyler Ennis entered this years college basketball season as a nobody since he's wasn't talked about in comparison to the other freshmen. At the start of the season Ennis wasn't thought of as a potential lottery pick and as he improved throughout the season it became more obvious to the oblivious that he would declare for the NBA Draft after his strong but surprising freshmen season ended. The Canadian product wasn't known or hyped up coming out of High School and didn't receive great ranks from respected High School athlete ranking sites (I.e. scouts.com, maxpreps.com, 247sports.com and rivals.com). Actually 247 Sports had him as a five-star athlete. But his high school rankings mean nothing now as he was clutch this season showing calmness in the court the entire 40 minutes.

This season with the Syracuse Orange he was a semi-finalist for the Naismith College Player of the Year and was named to the Second Team All-ACC (2014), All-ACC Freshmen Team (2014), All-ACC Defensive Team (2014). In 34 games he averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 41.1% (FG%), 35.3% (3P%) and 76.5% (FT%) in 35.7 minutes.

Ennis is expected to be a mid-late first rounder as he is believed to have more weaknesses than strengths, he is believed to be the third-best Point Guard in this years crop behind Dante Exum (Australia) and Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State). 

"If you were to ask me right now whether I'd take Ennis over Kyrie Irving, I think it's Ennis," an NBA GM said. "He does all the things that help a basketball team win basketball games. You can pick him apart on individual flaws, but I would take this kid right now and trust him to run my team. I think there's very few freshmen you could ever say that about."

Watching Ennis throughout the season it can be seen that he is very mature as a 19-year old and with that maturity he was given a bigger role and opportunity by long time Syracuse Head Coach, Jim Boeheim. Boeheim doesn't show if any admiration for freshmen but to him Ennis is different.

"Tyler, for us, he’s so valuable," Boeheim said on Ennis' importance. "He plays 40 minutes in the [ACC games]. We can’t win a game without him. Literally. If you talk about the best pro prospect (in the ACC), it’s Jabari Parker, but who’s the most valuable to his team? We don’t have a point guard, I don’t know where we would be without Tyler Ennis."

Scouts are impressed with Ennis' poise when he plays the game and it's obvious that he has a feel for the game that some players are missing which sets him apart from his other with a tremendous IQ and smooth operator like attitude. He has great handles as he only averaged 1.7 turnovers per game. On the court he has showcased leadership and great communication skills as he got his teammates into the right spots on the floor to make the offense flow like a waterfall which was a main reason as to why Syracuse started the season 25-0. Ennis will attempt to follow in the footsteps of former Orangemen guards Michael Carter-Williams and Dion Waiters into the NBA but the question is, Where will he get drafted? Most if not all NBA teams have a franchise Point Guard at this point in time and Ennis isn't good enough to become a franchise player but will be a backup in this golden age of Point Guards, the acculturation of the position is tremendous and it will be interesting to see how Ennis adjusts. 

Ennis' pick-and-roll game will translate perfectly to the NBA if he is teamed up with a good finishing big-man. If you compare Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday to their respective college careers you would notice a difference in their points averaged from college to the NBA. The reason for that difference is because most colleges especially big schools have a offense they they refuse to change regardless of the players and players from smaller schools as in Damian Lillard and Jimmer Fredette who had to be scorers for their respective schools. 

Ennis is a mixture a pass-first guard and a scoring-guard; typically he's a traditional Point Guard in the first half but in the second half he's what most of this generations point guards do and that is score and if needed he will takeover. Some believe he's to unselfish, but there's no such thing of that at the point guard position since his job is to do what's best for the team and go with what  the defense gives him. He's an All-Around great Point Guard as he averaged a 3.24 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio along with having a 5.38 Pure Point Rating which was good enough for 18th in the nation. 

When in the NBA he'll need to improve his jumpshot as it is very inconsistent. This past season he averaged 4.4 made shots per game on 10.6 attempts. As the season progressed Ennis gained more confidence to take that shot and would sometimes catch fire with it when his defender least expected it; sometimes on the fast-break when you think he's going to do something else he pulls-up for the shot, his shot wasn't as deadly as his driving ability to the rim. When needed he can score in bunches in a variety of ways if it's with hit shot, driving ability, runners, floaters etc.

At 6'2" and 180-pounds he isn't the biggest defender on the court and his lack of mass is quite evident. Despite his lack of size, he did average 2.1 steals, 3.9 steal percentage and 2.2 defensive win shares all show how IQ on that side of the court but he doesn't have the potential to become a good defender and could just be average on that end; possibly a liability. 

"I think he’s a great college player," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "I think physically he probably could’ve used another year. A little bit different than Dion Waiters who I had a couple of years ago who left. I think Dion was physically better, more physically ready."

When in the NBA Ennis' might not be selected to the All-Star team but will be a solid contributor to any team he's on. He contains things not can't be taught but only born with. As a team leader he brings positivity to the court as he never seems down in any situation and seems very positive. It'll be great to see how he performs during the combine and pre-draft workouts.

"He’s a tremendous player and a very, very smart point guard," Jim Boeheim said. "And I think the one thing I think is point guard is probably the hardest position to break into in the NBA, it’s a very difficult position, but he’s got the skill set to do that. It’s just a question of him landing in the right place."

NBA Comparisons: Chauncey Billups, Ray McCallum, George Hill, Austin Rivers

Best fits: Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks & Toronto Raptors.