The Los Angeles Lakers had a whole to fill at the back-up point guard spot on their roster, and they addressed it on July 25th, 2017. The Lakers re-signed Tyler Ennis, the twenty-two year old point guard out of Syracuse University.
During his twenty-two game stint with the Lakers after being traded away by the Houston Rockets, Ennis looked capable of handling the back-up point guard duties. In his third year in the NBA, the Lakers gave him his biggest chance by giving him 17.8 minutes per game. Ennis responded by putting up his best numbers to date.
The Canadian guard averaged 7.7 points, 2.4 assists and 0.9 steals per game. Those were all career highs for Ennis who had struggled to find playing time before playing for the purple and gold. Ennis also shot his best percentages from the floor, shooting 38.9% from three and 45.1% overall from the floor.
Tyler Ennis was able to show enough of an improvement in his overall game during his brief stint with the Lakers to secure a one-year minimum contract, with a team option for the second year. The Lakers needed someone to back-up Lonzo Ball, and instead of going with an old veteran, they stayed young since they will be looking to run up and down the court with the new offensive style of play.
The Lakers needed a point guard for the second unit that will play team first basketball and also be able to space the floor, and they got that by bringing Ennis back. Ennis will always look to run offensive sets with his team, moving the ball around instead of being a score-first point guard. This will allow his teammates to run freely and allow others to score the ball.
Ennis will likely share the backcourt with Jordan Clarkson during the second units playing time, and with Clarkson’s ability to drive to the basket, a guard that can shoot was needed to play with him. Tyler Ennis showed he could be a reliable option from the three-point line, so look for Clarkson to kick it out to an open Ennis next year.
His pick-and-roll play is also a key in which Ennis was brought back. He can either pull up from three if the defense sags off during the pick, or he can drive to the rack and finish. Ennis shows a great ability to finish around the rim, despite his small frame.
Since Ennis is only 6’3″, he relies on his impressive floater to finish once he gets to the paint. If the defense collapses on him when he gets to the paint, Ennis showed he is a willing passer and will find the open big around the rim instead of forcing up a bad shot.
One of Ennis’s biggest bright spots is his low turnover rate. During his 17.1 minutes per game last year with the Lakers, he only turned the ball over once per game. He values the ball on the offensive end and is making the smart play nine times out of ten.
On the defensive side, Tyler Ennis showed he has great anticipation skills. Most of his steals came from jumping the passing lane and picking the ball off. Ennis will need to pick up his perimeter defensive skills if he wants to continue to get more minutes.
Signing Ennis to this deal also doesn’t hurt the Lakers cap space for next summer. If Ennis continues to improve like he did last year, the Lakers can use their team option on him to secure him next year on a very cheap deal. Since Ennis is only twenty-two, he can definitely still improve and show why he was taken in the first round three years ago.
The Lakers have been very focused on their 2018 plan and have taken the correct approach in all of their offseason moves in 2017 so far. Bringing Ennis back is another good move in a long list of moves Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have made so far. Look for Ennis to keep rewarding the Lakers with their faith in him by being the back-up point guard that can control the second unit and help them improve their win total during the 2017-18 season.