Before Tuesday afternoon, James Ennis was a relatively unknown basketball player to most basketball fans in Memphis.
Then, the Grizzlies went out and acquired Ennis as a part of a four-player deal that also brought Mario Chalmers, who has made more Memphians shed agonizing tears that just about anybody else, to Memphis.
Here's a brief scouting report on James Ennis just to familiarize yourself with the newest Grizzly.
Height: 6-7 Weight: 210 Wingspan: 6-11.5 Max Vertical: 36.5
The first thing you need to know about James Ennis is that he is an extremely good athlete. Ennis is an explosive leaper, and when given about two steps to gather, he can jump with anybody in the NBA. You'll notice Ennis at the top of the screen. You can see when out in the open floor, he takes long strides. Once he catches the ball, he takes a couple of steps to gather himself, then he explodes off the floor.
Ennis is most effective when he's able to get out and run in transition. He consistently does a good job of filling the proper transition lane, and once he gets a full head of steam, he's a very capable at drawing a foul or finishing at the rim or both. You'll see in the video below that as soon as the ball gets in Shabazz Napier's hand, Ennis immediately takes off sprinting, filling the right lane, and finishing over the taller Jon Leuer.
But it's not just in transition where Ennis fills lanes and cuts to the basket; he also has shown the ability to do it in the half court offense. You'll see below that Ennis waits for his man to fully commit to sliding over into help, and that's when he makes his cut. He catches, no dribble gather, and throws down a violent finish.
Ennis has also displayed the ability to move pretty well without the basketball. There weren't many if any times on film where Ennis was caught ball watching on offense. He's very patient but decisive with his cuts, and he's at his best offensively when going hard attacking the rim. Here's what appears to be a set play for Ennis that leads to a backdoor cut. Ennis' man is caught ball watching, but he waits until Udonis Haslem flashes middle to make his run at the backdoor, and he finishes with ease.
Aside from cutting, there were a few instances where Ennis attacked the basket off the dribble. He's not an exceptional dribbler by any means, but he's capable enough to be able to competently attack the rim and beat his defender in a couple of different ways. First, by finishing over or through his defender. In the video, you'll see Ennis catch the ball just left of the top of the key. He makes a quick jab left, getting his defender, Andre Igoudala, off balance enough to get a step on him. Igoudala tries to recover but ends up fouling Ennis, and he converts the and-one.
The second way Ennis has shown to beat a defender when attacking off the dribble is with his passing. Ennis is able to slip past defenders with his quickness, forcing defenses to rotate into help. On multiple occasions, Ennis has made several really good dump-off passes of easy finishes, displaying pretty good court vision off the dribble. You'll see Ennis catch the ball and immediately attack left, beating his man. Birdman Anderson's man is forced to slide over in help, and that's when Ennis shovels off a pass to Birdman for an easy finish.
As a defender, Ennis has everything you want: good size, strength, speed, length, and lateral quickness. He should not have any problem fitting into the Grizzlies defensive scheme, and he gives them another wing with good size. In the video below, you'll see the Magic try to lob a pass to Mo Harkless. Ennis is playing help-side, but notices the lob and quickly jumps the passing lane for an easy transition bucket.
As for the question most Grizz fans want answered, yes, Ennis is a capable but not great shooter. His shooting stroke is not the prettiest, and it's erratic. But he did shoot 34.7 and 35.8 percent from three at Long Beach State and was 31 of 95 on threes last season with the Heat. He's probably a league average three-point shooter at best, which is perfectly fine when you consider all of the other attributes he brings to the table.
One thing that new-age NBA people will love is the fact that 75.7 percent of Ennis' shots are either inside of three feet or three point shots. Just under half of Ennis' threes last season were corner threes, and we all know those will be there in the Grizzlies offense.
Ennis is more of a long-term project with some pretty good upside than a ready-now fix, but it wouldn't shock me to see him at least get a look if Matt Barnes and Jeff Green continue to struggle. Ennis could, in theory, play stretch four in certain situations, but he's a big, long, athletic, explosive wing by nature, and the Grizz could always use an extra one of those.