Going into the 2013 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat had no selections and fans were expecting an uneventful night. With the 50th selection in the draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected swingman James Ennis out of Long Beach State University. Initially, the only impact this would have on the Heat was the prospect of playing him four times a year since he was drafted by a division rival. Later on that evening, the Heat traded a future second-round pick to acquire the athletic Ennis who fits the mold of a Pat Riley player.
James Ennis is a long and athletic 6-foot-7 Small Forward who has a wingspan of almost seven feet. He can develop into a defensive-minded role player in the NBA. During his senior season at Long Beach State, Ennis appeared in 33 games (32 starts) averaging 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.76 steals, 1.30 blocks while shooting 49.1% from the field, 35.7% from three-point range and 83.4% from the foul line. The numbers that I am sure stood out to Pat Riley were the steals, blocks and free throw percentage. Even if his offensive game never fully develops, he is the kind of player who can be used to come off the bench and defend the other teams most athletic wing player.
During the Summer League, the Miami Heat had only a few players with any prospects of making the club; the two players that the Heat were evaluating the most were Ennis and Jarvis Varnado. Ennis finished up averaging 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 23 minutes per game. Those projections don’t scream superstar or even NBA starter, but it shows that he can play on the NBA level and may get a chance.
On August 10, after not receiving a contract from the Heat, Ennis signed with Perth Wildcats in the NBL, which is located in Australia. Realizing that the Heat were stocked with wing players and he would either be spending the season in the D-League or in a suit, Ennis took his talents overseas to work on his game while still remaining property of the Heat.
Chances are the 2013-2014 season will be one where James Ennis tries to improve his outside shot and work on his overall offensive game, it just won’t be in Miami. At the end of this season, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, James Jones and Rashard Lewis will all be free agents. Dwyane Wade and Lebron James will have opt out clauses, so the Heat will be hoping Ennis shows a lot of offensive growth and can be a rotation player in 2014-2015.