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Ennis Believes He’s Best Point Guard in Draft

Tyler Ennis believes he’s the best point guard in the 2014 NBA Draft, and is looking forward to proving it.

John Zitzler

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Tyler Ennis entered Syracuse last fall as the 20th ranked incoming freshman, according to ESPN’s rankings. Now, less than a year later, he may have vaulted himself into the top 20 of the 2014 NBA Draft after an electrifying one-and-done season.

He showed poise well beyond his years and and grew into a leader for Jim Boeheim’s talented group. Ennis was the driving force behind the Syracuse attack and served as a more than suitable replacement for the departed Michael Carter-Williams. He possesses many of the skills desired in a prototypical point guard, as he is a good decision maker, capable of creating for others, comfortable running an offense and able to score if need be.

Ennis is more than aware that his ability to be a well-rounded point guard is what will separate him from the other point guards in this year’s draft. When asked if Ennis thought he was the best true point guard in the draft, he didn’t hesitate.

“Definitely,” Ennis said. “I think I have the ability to lead a team, I think I have the ability to make others better and I think I’m able to put those together into a true point guard, who is also able to score when my team needs me. There are a lot of guys who can really score the ball, maybe some who can score better than me, but none that can put together the whole package as a point guard better than I can in this draft.”

He has the confidence you want to see from a young player, especially one who will be counted on as a leader. He grew up watching Jason Kidd, but believes his best NBA comparison is Tony Parker.

“I’d say Tony Parker [since I’m] able to the score the ball, he would score a little more than I would, but being able to score, being able to control the team and being able to find open guys when the time is right,” Ennis said. “Growing up, I would always watch Jason Kidd and that’s somebody I kind of model my game after. Being able to score the ball, but also make plays for others and just be a leader on the floor.”

Ennis plays with a great tempo and that’s one thing that is already reminiscent of Parker. If he can develop into anywhere near the player Parker is, he will make some NBA team very happy.

The biggest question mark surrounding Ennis is if he will be athletic enough to keep up with some of the league’s more explosive guards. His athleticism doesn’t jump off the screen like Russell Westbrook’s or John Wall’s, but he feels that he can surprise some people.

“The athletic side, I’m not the one dunking all the time but I’m able to jump pretty high and I’m a lot faster than people think,” Ennis said. “Going through the combine, I think my numbers will show that it’s a little more surprising than people would expect.”

As far as how Ennis measured up athletically, his max vertical was 36 inches, lane agility drill was 11.12 seconds and sprint was 3.3 seconds. Not a bad showing at all for Ennis, since those numbers put him right in the middle of the pack of point guards coming out this year. If anything, they should boost his draft stock since he answered some concerns about him. According to DraftExpress’ composite score that combines all of the athletic-drill results, Ennis tested out as the 22nd-most athletic player at the combine.

One of the other challenges for Ennis outside of his athleticism is being so young and expected to lead NBA veterans. However, the 19-year-old isn’t concerned.

“That’s a big thing, getting their respect,” Ennis said when asked about winning over veteran teammates. “Coming into the league, you have a lot to learn. It’s a transition period, especially as a point guard. You have to balance learning, but also being able to lead your guys. That’s going to be a big thing for me.”

Ennis was very busy at the combine and has number of teams interested in his services next season. Ennis met with the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks among others.

Ennis is one player whose stock seems to be on the rise. He the type of player that can lead a team for the next decade if he can work on his perimeter game and defense. As a leader, even at just 19, he is confident he can step into an NBA locker room and garner the respect needed to be successful as a point guard. Ennis has a ton of potential, and bringing in a player so young will give a team the chance to mold Ennis and develop him in their system, which could prove to be very valuable down the road.

It remains to be seen if Ennis is, in fact, the best point guard in this draft class. Only time will tell, but you have to like his confidence.

 

 

This is John's second year with Basketball Insiders, after spending last season working as an intern. Based out of Milwaukee, he covers the NBA with a focus on the Milwaukee Bucks and the Central Division.

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NBA Daily: Lessons From The 2018 NBA Draft

After a wild 2018 NBA Draft, here are four lessons and storylines worth watching over the next few years.

Ben Nadeau

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Now that the dust has settled on an unpredictable NBA Draft — what exactly have we learned? In amongst the unrelenting rumors, refused workouts and surprise reaches, there are a few key takeaways from Brooklyn. Of course, some of these are one-off instances, but others are definitely part of modern-day draft patterns. While draft night may sometimes seem like complete chaos or chance, each scenario on this rundown has been boiling over for weeks. Between passing on a talented prospect to letting an injured one slide, here are four important lessons from the 2018 NBA Draft.

Luka Dončić… Not The No. 1?

For months and months, it appeared as if Luka Dončić was poised to become the No. 1 overall pick in this draft. Even today, it’s hard to believe that somebody with Dončić’s age and resume wasn’t the top selection. In 2017-18 alone, the Slovenian took home EuroLeague MVP and Finals MVP plus ACB MVP, with championships in both leagues to boot — but here we are. Dončić averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals over just 25 minutes per game, quickly transforming into the most well-rounded overseas prospect of all-time. But as impressive as Dončić was throughout the spring, the potential ceilings of both DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III eventually won out.

At 7-foot-1, Ayton’s 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game were undeniably worthy of a top selection too, pairing well alongside Devin Booker and Josh Jackson for the foreseeable future. While the jury is still out on Bagley III — his defense needs some major fine-tuning — he won’t take key touches away from De’Aaron Fox either. More or less, nobody wants to be the organization to miss on such a franchise-altering pick. The Suns, Kings and even the Hawks may eventually regret passing on Dončić, but when general managers’ entire careers can depend on making the right choice at the right time, it’s not difficult to understand why the top of the draft unfolded as it did.

Playing Hard To Get Doesn’t Always Work Out…

As draft boards began to take shape, there was one particularly interesting situation sitting at No. 4 overall. Jaren Jackson Jr., solidly leading the second tier of prospects, was looking like a lock at the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick — but with one major caveat: Jackson Jr. reportedly didn’t work out or give his medical information to the franchise. After he was drafted, Jackson Jr. called those rumors “a tad out of context” — but, obviously, those are some massive red flags. Either way, Memphis went with their gut and selected the talented forward anyway.

But beyond all that, Memphis absolutely made the right move by sticking to their guns. Putting a modern three-point shooting, defensive-minded athlete next to Marc Gasol should prove to be an absolute nightmare for years to come. Naturally, Jackson Jr. will get plenty of easy looks from the stellar Mike Conley Jr. too — so if the draftee was once apprehensive, surely that will pass soon. Still, it reflects on a larger NBA pattern, wherein which prospective athletes sensibly look to mold their own path out of college. With players trying to control their draft narratives more than ever, it’s reassuring to see that some franchises will take their target first and then figure out the rest.

We may never know Jackson Jr.’s full thought process behind not working out for the Grizzlies, but there’s a great chance that the former Spartan was made for Memphis’ tough brand of basketball — and we should all be glad we’ll get to see it.

…But Injuries Will Lead To A Slide

Michael Porter Jr. — what a year for him, huh?

After missing out on much of his only collegiate season due to back surgery, Porter Jr. promised that he was feeling better than ever. But over the last month, scouts and front offices were treated to canceled workouts and hazy uncertainty. And, at the end of the day, it probably scared a handful of franchises away from the talented scorer. Just this week, the Kings heavily considered Porter Jr. at No. 2 overall — but even with that sudden unlikelihood passing by, few thought he’d drop out of the top ten altogether. Outside of the guaranteed money that Porter Jr. will miss out on, redshirting his rookie year may also be on the table as well.

The inherent upside with Porter Jr. is obvious, but — similarly to the Dončić issue — it’s tough to ask franchise officials to stake their livelihood on the prospect’s health. If Porter Jr.’s lingering issues stay with him and he never reaches his mountain of potential, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The 19-year-old would fall all the way down to No. 14, where the Denver Nuggets gladly scooped him up. During the combine in May, Porter Jr. called himself the best player in the draft — but it’s now up to him to prove them all wrong.

The Mysterious Men Nearly Miss Out

Let’s rewind to early April. Villanova had been just crowned NCAA champions for the second time in three years, the NBA playoffs were soundly on the horizon and mock drafts had begun to consistently pour out. Early on, there were two athletic big men that looked like shoo-ins as first-rounders: Robert Williams and Mitchell Robinson. Despite their undercooked skill-sets, both players pulled out of the combine and then waited for the hype to build — except, well, it didn’t. Williams, who was typically projected in the early teens, slipped out of the lottery entirely, only to be rescued by the Boston Celtics at No. 27. Williams is a booming, powerful prospect, but he could’ve really benefited from competing against the other top prospects in May.

Although he’s now landed in an ideal situation with Brad Stevens, Al Horford and a process-driven Celtics squad, Williams likely cost himself a whole load of money over the last 30-plus days as well.

In Robinson’s case, many believed his floor was the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25 — rumors swirling that the 7-foot-1 center even received a promise from the illustrious franchise. Instead, Robinson dropped to the New York Knicks at No. 36 overall. Robinson had originally committed to Western Kentucky in July of 2017 before dropping out to prepare for the draft. After skipping the combine last month, Robinson indeed exhibited the potential to be both a steady shot-blocker and three-point maker during his individual evaluations. But with little to go off of but high school highlight reels and small session workout tapes, he understandably fell.

Sometimes the hype is impossible to ignore, but not participating in the combine and staying as mysterious as possible hurt these ultra-talented prospects.

While the 2018 NBA Draft wasn’t quite the trade-heavy, drama-laden extravaganza much of the world expected, there are plenty of narratives to reflect upon. At the end of the day, the ink is barely dry on this year’s festivities and it’ll be some time before there’s any indication of these successes or failures. Still, there are lessons to be learned from every draft, workout or injury process and these are four conversations worth considering as the NBA quickly rolls into the summer league season.

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VIDEO: 2018 NBA Draft Winners

Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may have done better than expected.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may have done better than expected.

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Insiders Video

VIDEO: 2018 NBA Draft Losers

Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may not have done as well as expected.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may not have done as well as expected.

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