If online projections are to be believed, at least 5-13 teams are going to make a huge mistake on draft day. They are going to pass on Tyler Ennis, the most NBA ready point guard in the draft.
Look, I’m clearly a Syracuse fan, and I’ m not an NBA scout, but I watch enough basketball to know that sometimes, a kid can just flat-out play. Ennis is being overlooked in the Top 10 (and in danger of falling as low as 20th) of the upcoming NBA Draft for the same reasons he was often overlooked as a high school recruit- he makes everything look too easy.
The cool-headed point guard reminds our Wesley Cheng of another one-and-done point guard, Michael Conley. I think that’s a great comparison. They both had similar stats in their one college season (look it up if you’d like) and both play with a controlled athleticism. Neither will blow you out of the gym with his speed or quickness, but both can lead a team to the highest levels of the game.
Conley, the 4th overall pick in 2006, is now on the verge of being an All-Star on a perennial contender. Ennis will get there too.
Yes, there are better athletes ahead of him, and no I’m not suggesting he be selected before Joel Embid, Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. I am telling you though, that after those three, Ennis deserves to be looked at carefully by each and every team on the clock. The thought of him dropping to 20th is just obscene and completely undervalues what Ennis brings to the basketball court.
Australian point guard Dante Exum has scouts drooling, but like many international prospects before him, he has yet to really prove himself. Remember when Darko Milicic went before another ‘Cuse star, Carmelo Anthony? How’d that work out for Detroit in the long run?
Marcus Smart is a big time scorer, but can he really control an offense like Ennis can?
The list goes on, and I can pick apart each player projected to be drafted before Ennis. But instead, let’s make the case for Ennis. He’s the smartest player in the draft who walked right into a pressure situation, as a starting freshmen point guard, and was up to the challenge, leading the Orange to an undefeated (25-0) start through February. He proved himself more than capable of running an offense, turning the ball over at a laughably low rate, and then, when called upon, scoring in every situation imaginable. A lot of people can be blamed for Syracuse’s quick decline after the 25-0 start. Ennis is not one of them.
He embodies every characteristic an NBA point guard should possess. He’s unselfish but aggressive. He’s athletic but under control. He’s confident but not cocky. He’s the total package and he’s only going to get better.
So why would anyone pass on him? Well, NBA teams like to outthink themselves. For every R.C Buford there’s 3 or 4 David Kahns. Speaking of which, if David Kahn was drafting, Ennis would probably go 1st overall.
NBA teams like to draft on upside and advanced metrics. While I believe there’s a place for all of that, sometimes you just need to look at what’s in front of you. Dwayne Wade should have gone second overall but went 5th because he was “old.” Yi Jianlian went 5th overall because he played well with no one guarding him and dribbling around chairs. These are just two examples of GMs outsmarting themselves.
If Ennis falls out of the Top 10, he will haunt those who passed on him, and be a “steal” for the one who finally grabs him. Either way, he’s going to be a star, and one fortunate team is getting a clear-cut starting point guard for the next decade.
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