After trading Lou Williams, the Lakers didn’t quite sit out the rest of the trade deadline but they also didn’t make any large moves — especially the one many fans were wondering about as rumors around Paul George’s availability swirled all day. No, the Lakers settled for more of a minor move, dealing Marcelo Huertas for the Rockets’ Tyler Ennis.
Ennis is a former 1st round draft pick, chosen with the 18th pick in the 2014 draft by the Phoenix Suns. At that time, he was a fairly well regarded point guard prospect out of Syracuse who was ranked by most people in the 20-25 range leaving college after only one season. From his Draft Express Profile:
Ranking among the least turnover prone players in this group in isolations, pick and rolls, and spot-ups, Ennis’s unique poise for a freshman shows on paper. He operated in the two man game extensively, as 32.9% of his possessions came on the pick and roll and 29.9% of his possessions derived from his own usage and his passes came from dishes out of the pick and roll, both of which rank 4th among point guard prospects. Sporting a 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio in the half court overall, Ennis’s decision-making when the game slows down is one of his biggest strengths relative to his peers.
While Ennis has a maturity as a distributor beyond his years, he still has room to grow as a scorer. Ranking just average scoring 1.041 points per spot-up possession and below averaging scoring .794 points per isolation possession, Ennis is limited by a lack of burst attacking the rim. The Canadian floor general ranks as the 4th worst finisher among his peers scoring 1.011 points per-shot making exactly 50% of his attempts inside. Often unable to get all the way to the rim, 20.5% of his shot attempts in the half court last season were floaters, of which he made a below average 28.3%.
While Ennis may not be an efficient scorer in the paint, he is a capable pull-up jump shooter ranking 5th among this group scoring .87 points per dribble jumper. Only four players in this group took fewer catch and shoot jumpers than Ennis, as he rarely slid over to operate off the ball when he was on the floor.
Looking ahead, there’s little questioning Ennis’s ability to get others involved, and there’s certainly reason to believe he’ll be able to add value as a distributor early in his career. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see what he can add as a scorer, especially when his perimeter shot isn’t falling.
Ennis, though, hasn’t really found his game and the Lakers are his 4th team in only his 3rd season. After being drafted by the Suns he was sent to the Bucks as part of the Brandon Knight trade in his rookie season. After a season and a half in Milwaukee was shipped to the Rockets this past season for Michael Beasley. And now, after only a half a season with the Rockets, he’s been dealt again.
I say all of this so that you won’t get your hopes up about Ennis. After all, Mike D’Antoni is somewhat of a point guard whisperer (remember Kendall Marshall?) and he can’t find a way to make you productive, you might just be the problem. That said, Ennis is young, the Lakers may find some minutes for him at PG and, if nothing else, he’ll be a nice enough practice player who might be able to test some of the Lakers’ guards defensively with some younger legs. Ultimately, they now get a nearly two month look at him in their system and see what he can do. Considering his contract expires this season, there’s no harm in getting a look at a young guy.
Especially when you consider this was a clean swap for Huertas who the Lakers know plenty about already. “The Catalyst” was a nice enough veteran reserve who was good in the lockerroom and could soak up some garbage time minutes, but he’s another case of an international guard who cut his teeth in Europe who probably came to the league a year or two too late. I loved Huertas’ flare as a passer and his unorthodox runners, but he was one of several 15th men on the team and jettisoning him, regardless of the return, isn’t of much consequence.
Ultimately, then, this wasn’t the most exciting trade deadline for the Lakers, but, even though the FO is not made up of the same guys, we should all be used to that by now. The team made their move on Tuesday by trading Lou Williams and that was probably enough for this deadline. We’ll see what comes next over the summer.