Los Angeles Lakers guard Tyler Ennis has already been on four different NBA teams in his three years in the league and is about to be a free agent yet again this summer. Traded from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Marcelo Huertas just minutes before the NBA trade deadline, Ennis admitted Los Angeles was probably one of the best spots he could have wound up.
Having played 22 games (starting two) and averaging 7.7 points, 2.4 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 12.5 minutes per game, Ennis said playing under head coach Luke Walton was the first time he really felt like he was given a fair shot.
“Outside of Milwaukee, where I think I was able to play up and down minutes, honestly this was the first time I was able to come into a team and get a fair shot, get a fair opportunity,” Ennis said. “Outside of all the politics and everything else that goes on in the NBA, I think this was the one stop where I could say they gave me a chance and they believed in me, so I think that’s something that obviously I want to continue and hopefully I’m here to continue that next year.”
For Walton, just how far Ennis makes it in the NBA is dependent on one main factor, his shooting.
“The way he’s been shooting the ball is going to be the key to how far he makes it in this league. He’s got a great feel for being a point guard, getting into the lane, making an extra pass, finishing around the rim, playing defense, all of those things he does well enough, especially for his age,” Walton said. “If he can consistently be a threat from out there, he’s going to be a very good player in this league.”
Ennis’ shooting improved in his final stretch of the Lakers season, scoring career-bests twice in a three game stretch (19 points against Sacramento and 20 points against Minnesota). Over his final 10 games of the season, Ennis was averaging 11.6 points to go along with 46.3% shooting (including 42.5% from three-point range), in 26.5 minutes per game. Compared to his career numbers (41.9% FG/34.2% 3P), those are significant improvements.
Defense and shooting are both areas Ennis plans to focus on this summer, though he thinks he’s a better defender than many give him credit for.
“Defending that’s one thing for me, coming from a school that plays zone (Syracuse), I wanted to prove to everyone that I could defend.” Ennis said. “I think the Lakers and people I play against could say defensively I don’t get enough credit, but that’s something I’m going to continue working on and showing people I can shoot the ball and shooting with confidence.”
Confidence is something Ennis said both Walton and his veteran teammates helped instill in him last season. It was one of the few times a coach would get upset with him for not shooting the ball.
“When I wasn’t shooting the ball he’d (Walton) get mad as opposed to the other side,” Ennis said. “He gave me the confidence, him and the veterans and the whole team. I think just the combination fit perfectly for me with the opportunity.”
While Ennis’ future with the Lakers remains uncertain, his hope to remain in the purple and gold is definite.
“There’s obviously a lot that has to unfold in the next couple weeks, couple months, but I think they were pleased with what I did and were happy with what I brought to the team and I obviously want to continue being a Laker, and I think at this point its out of my hands but I hope the front office and my agency is able to get it done.”