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Memphis Grizzlies 2016-2017 Player Grades: James Ennis III

It was a mixed bag for James Ennis in his first full season with the Grizzlies

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

James Ennis III

James Ennis III 2016-2017
James Ennis III 2016-2017
Points Per Game 6.7
Rebound Per Game 4
Assists Per Game 1
Field Goal Percentage 45.50%
3-Point Shooting Percentage 37.20%
Offensive Rating 104.6
Defensive Rating 103.9
Net Rating 0.7
Player Efficiency Rating 10.6
Usage Rate 12.90%
Assist Percentage 6.70%
Win Shares Per 48 Minutes 3.2

James Ennis III had a roller-coaster of a season for the Grizzlies this past year.

His role changed many times throughout the season. He went from a starter, to a role player, to an end of the bench guy and back to a role player/starter in the 64 games he played last season. His was relegated to a bench role when Chandler Parsons came back “healthy” from his knee injuries but struggled a bit off the bench and was put in Fizdale’s doghouse for reasons nobody really knows. When grading Ennis it’s tough to figure out if his struggles were the cause of never having a defined role on the team or if his role on the team changed so much because he struggled with consistency. Either way, the Grizzlies will need James Ennis to continue to improve no matter what role he plays next year.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Ennis played his best when he was on the floor with the starters. Obviously the minutes increase with being a starter helped inflate Ennis’ stats but he also shot better overall from the field. His 8.5 points as a starter don’t jump out to you, but Ennis was a solid complementary piece on the wing with Conley and Gasol. Ennis struggled with the bench role because he was asked to do too much offensively. He was tasked with playing second fiddle to Zach Randolph and simply put, Ennis isn’t good enough yet to be a focal point on offense. If Z-Bo wasn’t playing well, the bench unit struggled and forced Fizdale to put Conley or Gasol back in the game.

The best thing Ennis brings to the team is his defense and energy. With Tony Allen off the court, Ennis was typically the person put in charge of stopping the opposing teams best offensive player. There’s room for improvement, of course, but Ennis can hold his own on defense (unless you’re a robot named Kawhi Leonard).

Best Game:

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ennis’s best game last season came early in the year when he was still a starter. On November 2nd against the New Orleans Pelicans, Ennis scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his only double-double of the season. Ennis shot an efficient 5-8 from the field (2-4 from 3) and was a game high +25. The Grizzlies came out of the overtime affair with an 89-83 victory. Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry said after the game that their were a couple of 50-50 balls that the Grizzlies came up with that he believes played a huge role in the deciding outcome of the game. With his energy and sometimes sporadic play, Ennis is a big reason why the Grizzlies as a team were able to come up with those 50-50 balls throughout the season.

Ways to Improve:

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

James Ennis shot a respectable 37.2% from 3-point land this past season. Ennis is a streaky shooter but he hurts the Grizzlies when he lets a few misses destroy his confidence. This was most obvious during the Grizzlies playoff series against the Spurs. The way the Spurs defended the Grizzlies, Ennis was often left open with a good look at a corner 3. When Ennis hit that shot a couple of times, he was more active on the offensive end and it forced the Spurs to change their defensive game plan.

However, when Ennis missed a couple of those open 3’s, he tried to do too much. Instead of taking the shot the defense was giving him, he would pass out of an open look or drive recklessly into the lane. Both options, for the most part, resulted in bad possessions for the Grizzlies. I’m not saying Ennis needs to shoot that 3 until he eventually makes one, but he needs to have more confidence in himself with the shot instead of turning the shot down after only one or two misses.

2016-2017 Overall Grade:

Overall, Ennis played relatively well in his second full season in the NBA. He had his struggles but overcame them and was a solid contributor in the playoffs. Ennis’ role with the team next year will likely be determined by what Tony Allen does in free agency and Chandler Parsons’ health. Hopefully with a more defined role, Ennis can continue to grow as a young player and be more of a contributor to the team next year.

With Ennis’ production, I would typically grade him as a “C” but his grade gets bumped up a little since his role changed so much this season and this was also his first season playing significant minutes. Ennis has plenty of room to grow, but overall it was a solid season for Ennis.

Grade: B

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