With a majorly overhauled roster making it's exhibition debut last Saturday, many HEAT fans were intrigued to see how rookie 2nd round pick James Ennis would perform. It is safe to say that he has majorly exceeded expectations and is giving the coaching staff reason to include him in the rotation when the regular season starts.
In the preseason, Ennis is averaging 16.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game on 60% shooting from the field, 33% from three, and 83% from the foul line. What's been most impressive about his game is that he's offered something different in each of his three match ups.
Against the New Orleans Pelicans, Ennis earned 10 trips to the foul line, against Orlando, Ennis stuffed the stat sheet with a 14-10-5 line with only one turnover, and last night Ennis led a furious comeback and netted himself 17 points on only six shot attempts, showing off his ability to finish in traffic and transition with his athletic ability.
There are a few caveats to note. The first, and easiest one to note is that it's the preseason and Ennis has done his damage mostly against other backups. That's not to say his stats are empty as simply watching the tape has shown he has NBA-level ability on offense, but can he produce when it counts against largely better defenders who know their respective team's system?
Secondly, the rotation is far from set and Ennis is jostling with a few other HEAT players for minutes right now at his position. Shawne Williams & Danny Granger are both capable of backing up Luol Deng (though Williams largely projects to be primarily a power forward this year) and there are still a few other players on the fringes vying for the final available roster spots. Ennis has outperformed all of them, but the franchise has historically always favored veterans. It's possible Ennis could play out of position at shooting guard (the "2" and the "3" spot are hardly distinguishable in today's NBA as is) where Miami is still deciding which player should back up Dwyane Wade.
James Ennis has shown the dividends of his time spent with the Perth Wildcats in Australia and has displayed a skill set that goes beyond the ceiling of a "3-and-D" player. But his work is far from done and he'll need to continue to impress this preseason to crack the team's rotation. Regardless, it's clear that Ennis is in the longterm plans of the HEAT and it appears they may have found a true diamond in the rough.