Get to Know the Miami Heat’s Latest Draft Pick, James Ennis

I would be lying to you if I had an extensive list of pros and cons on the play of former Long Beach State star and the Miami Heat’s 2013 draft pick, James Ennis.

It’s not that I don’t watch college basketball. It’s more of me not doing my homework on Long Beach State. The 49ers weren’t exactly the team that the national media picked up on, therefore making a proper analysis on him difficult.

But isn’t that part of the fun of getting to know somebody? The Heat actually didn’t have a draft pick going into this year’s, but traded a future second-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to Ennis, a 6’7″ forward selected 50th.

Recipient of the Big West Player of the Year last season, Ennis proved to be a threat at all times on the offensive end. He had a significant jump in his numbers from his freshman to his sophomore season, earning more playing time and improving at just about all aspects of the game.

He would average 16.5 points, an impressive 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, while shooting 49 percent from the field overall, 36 percent from beyond the arc and 84 percent from the foul line. Ennis had only converted 71 percent of his free throw attempts the year before.

Although he was mostly limited to playing some of NCAA basketball’s lower-tier teams, with Long Beach State playing such opponents as CS Northridge, UC Irvine and the Banana Slugs of UCSB,  Ennis did prove his worth in games against the likes of North Carolina and Arizona, however.

Ennis dropped 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks in a loss to the Tar Heels. He also recorded 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds in a loss to tenth-ranked Arizona.

However, he did struggle mightily against Ohio State and Syracuse, combining to score 22 points on 8-of-29 shooting.

It’s wiser to look at how well he played against those elite teams. It gives a clearer idea of how well a college player will fare against the upper-echelon of defenses in the NBA. Ennis shot poorly in both games against top ten opponents, including scoring a season-low 10 points against the Orange.

His top game of the season came in a win against BYU-Hawaii (Seriously. That’s a school), when he scored 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Ennis had four games with at least 13 rebounds.

Although Ennis could shoot the rock well, attempting nearly five three-pointers per game and making two of them, he could also use his elite-level athleticism to get to the rim and draw fouls. He was taking nearly five free throw attempts per game in his sophomore season.

If you want a look at Ennis’ athleticism and shooting ability, check out his mixtape consisting of one-handed throwdowns and a few impressive jump shooting streaks:

There’s a lot to be impressed by here. Not only is Ennis making jumpers, he’s making the types of shots you would see in game-time situations. He shoots well off the dribble, off the spot-up after creating space and using some pretty ball-handling skills to get around invisible defenders and get into the lane.

And as I stated before, some of those jump shooting streaks, especially the looks from the corner and at the top of the perimeter, are something to be desired. Considering the Heat is a team that employs and enjoys its jump shooters, Ennis should have no trouble fitting in.

Plus, it’s always a good move for the Heat to begin developing players who can help in the future. Outside of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat have three players that under the age of 30, with one of those players, Jarvis Varnado, possibly being out of a roster spot next season due to an extremely quiet 2012-13 campaign.

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, both point guards, are the other two players under the age of 30.

Meanwhile, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, Shane Battier, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller and Dwyane Wade are all 30 years or older. Bosh and James are nearing 30, currently 29 and 28 years old, respectively.

Miami will also find free agents difficult to sign as funds are as low as they have been since the ‘Big Three’ was brought together.

They’ll make it a priority to re-sign Chris Andersen, will figure out what to do with the contracts of Mike Miller and Joel Anthony, and possibly make a signing late in the offseason of the free agents that will be left available after the top free agents are already signed.

Ennis will compete for a roster spot with a few names of interest, including D.J. Stephens and his 46-inch vertical, a business friend of LeBron’s in Myck Kabongo, and last year’s draft pick in Justin Hamilton, who played in Croatia this past season.

 

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