A Look at James Ennis' Main Strengths
ORLANDO – The first, and maybe most important, thing that stands out about James Ennis, the Orlando Magic’s newest addition, is his corner 3-point shooting.
The Magic have no problem getting the ball into the paint, which is what Head Coach Steve Clifford wants his team to routinely do, but they’ve struggled to knock down their open kick-out 3-point attempts. Ennis, a 29-year-old from Ventura, California, will certainly help improve that as he’s made nearly 43 percent of his threes from the right corner and 40 percent of them from the left side this season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Last year, he made 44 percent of his left corner triples and 37 percent from the alternate corner.
Although it currently ranks No. 4 in paint touches, Orlando ranks last in the league in corner kick-out 3-point attempts, making just 32 of its 101 tries, per Second Spectrum tracking data. Ennis has a knack for running to the corners, which will help create more space when Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier or Aaron Gordon drive into the paint or when Nikola Vucevic posts up.
Another one of Ennis’ strengths is his cutting. He’s good moving without the ball and will occasionally score when he accelerates toward the hoop. The former second round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks has made 29 of his 35 cutting layup attempts this season, per data. He also gets fouled quite a bit on those plays, which is something the Magic haven’t done enough of to this point of the season.
Maybe the most underrated aspect of Ennis’ game is his explosiveness, especially when he gets a full head of steam in transition. One of last decade’s most memorable dunks in the NBA was when Ennis, who was with the Miami Heat at the time, dunked over Rasual Butler. He had a few monster jams in Philadelphia this season as well.
Although he’s not known for his defense, Ennis’ nearly 7-foot wingspan gives the Magic another long, versatile player on that end of the floor. A few players have struggled this season when he has been the closest defender. Boston’s Jayson Tatum, for example, went 0-for-5 the times Ennis contested his shots when the Sixers and Celtics matched up earlier this year.