By Randy Renner
The NBA Draft is Thursday night. The Thunder have the 21st and 29th picks in the first round and no selections in the second round.
Each day leading up to the draft we’re profiling players who could be available for the Thunder at either #21 or #29.
On Thursday night our InsideThunder.com crew will be at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center to provide full coverage of Thunder Draft Night 2014.
TYLER ENNIS (Point Guard, Syracuse)
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has never been considered a pure point guard, neither really has backup Reggie Jackson though he comes closer than Westbrook.
But Syracuse prospect Tyler Ennis is as pure at the point as they come. With the departure of Derek Fisher the Thunder at least need a third point guard and if Jackson switches over and becomes OKC’s starting shooting guard the Thunder would be in the market for a backup PG.
Last season at ‘Cuse Ennis averaged 36 minutes, scoring 12.9 points on 41.1 percent shooting overall and 35.3 percent on threes while handing out 5.5 assists per game and turning it over just 1.7 times a game.
His 11.5 percent turnover rate is among the lowest among available point guards and is half what Michael Carter-Williams posted the year before at Syracuse. He also pulled down 3.4 rebounds and snatched 2.1 steals.
Ennis is just shy of 6-3 and weighs 185. At the NBA Draft Combine his wingspan was measured at 6-7 and his max vertical leap was 36 inches.
He ran the two-man game very well at Syracuse and is one of the least turnover prone PGs out there. He excels in isolations, pick-and-rolls (32.9 percent of his possessions came on these plays) and spot-ups. 29.9 percent of his possessions came from his own usage and his passes came from dishes out of pick-and-rolls.
His assist-to-turnover ratio in the half-court is an outstanding 3.5 to 1 and so his decision making is certainly one of his strengths when he distributes the ball.
When it comes to scoring himself, he has some things to work on. According to statistics from Synergy Sports Ennis is just average in spot-up possessions, scoring 1.041 points in those situations and he’s below average in iso plays scoring just 0.794 points per possession.
He also does not have the best burst at the rim and for Thunder fans used to seeing Westbrook and Jackson attack down there Ennis might seem to be moving in slow motion. Ennis ranks as the fourth worst finisher at the rim among point guards scoring 1.011 points per possession and making just half his shots from in close. 20 percent of the time he didn’t even make it all the way to the rim choosing instead to put up a floater and he managed to hit only 28.3 percent of those attempts.
Still Ennis displays great confidence and when Syracuse needed a big shot last season, Ennis usually took it, he didn’t always make, but he had the guts to take it.
One of the great unknowns about Ennis is his defense. He was pretty good out on the perimeter in that Syracuse 2-3 zone and he was very adept at picking off passes and getting steals from his position out there. In the NBA and especially with the Thunder, he’ll have to be able to guard his man one-on-one. He doesn’t appear to have great lateral quickness and he wasn’t that great of a defender in high school and whatever skills he has at that end might have eroded even more because of his time in the zone.
However, by all accounts he’s a hard worker and so should be able to improve.
If the Thunder want a pure point guard for a change, Ennis is probably the best option.