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.