Ennis Ready to Set Table for Summer Suns

NBAE/Getty Images
by Matt Petersen

When the ball is thrown up in Las Vegas, every player has the same goal.

Get attention.

Rookies hoping for playing time, free agents pining for a ctornact, whatever situation they’re in, know that the biggest priority will be to impress, sometimes at the expense of better decision-making on the floor. The easiest way to do that is to put the ball in the basket.

This is where the point guard becomes vital. He can call the team back, reinstate the offense, remind them that, yes, you can impress the coach by doing the right thing, too.

It’s a good thing Phoenix will boast one of the most pass-oriented point guards in Vegas.

“Point guards always have that kind of [pass-first] mentality,” Ennis said. “I always want to get everybody involved.”

That much was evident in his days at Syracuse, where Ennis averaged led the ACC in assists per game while sporting one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation.

In other words, Ennis shares the ball without coughing it up in the process.

Tyler Ennis at Summer League Practice

Miles Plumlee witnessed as much in the summer league squad’s early scrimmages and pickup games. Phoenix’s young veteran big man knows how valuable an aware playmaker can be. He was on the receiving end last season, capitalizing on heads-up passes from Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.

Those players, however, are NBA veterans in their twenties. Plumlee says, however, that he’d assume Ennsi was too if he didn’t already know better.

“I’ve been really impressed with Tyler’s poise on the court, especially for how young he is,” Plumlee said. “It’s really weird. He doesn’t seem that young at all.”

Ennis’ maturity is a result of patience mixed with opportunity. He isn’t careless, but he doesn’t stray into being too careful. Cutters are rewarded for their movement. Big men like Plumlee know if they establish early, deep position in the paint, the ball will find them. Teammates who run know Ennis sees them up the court.

“He just never seems rattled,” Plumlee said. “He never seems out of control. He’s always under control. He’s ready to make the right play every time. That’s huge.”

It helps that Ennsi finds himself surrounded by a point guard’s version of a treasure chest, especially for summer league. Plumlee is a starting-quality big man. Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren, both of whom were elite scorers in college, give him weapons on the wings. Alex Len offers Ennis the most versatile big man target he’s ever played with.

“He just never seems rattled. He never seems out of control. He’s always under control. He’s ready to make the right play every time. That’s huge.”

— Miles Plumlee on Tyler Ennis

“We have a lot of guys [who can score], especially when we’re in transition, a bunch of athletic guys,” Ennis said. “Even in the half-court, we have guys who can make plays as well. We have a lot of offensive weapons on the team.”

It will be up to the Suns’ rookie point guard to make the best use of such a full tool box. The success he has in doing so will be closely monitored, since Phoenix’s system relies so heavily on point guard play.

His job is already made easier by the carry-over of the Suns’ team-first attitude and collective addiction to the practice court.

“We have a bunch of guys who, character-wise, are good to be with in the locker room,” Ennis said. “That’s going to be good because we have so little time to mesh and make chemistry.”

Once made, look for Ennis to do his best to maintain it.