Long Beach State forward James Ennis went from Long Beach to South Beach in the 2013 NBA Draft. He won’t be playing for the team that drafted him, but for Ennis, the situation couldn’t be better.
The Atlanta Hawks drafted Ennis with the 50th pick in the draft, but before he could even imagine what it would be like playing for Atlanta, he was sent to Miami. Atlanta agreed to draft Ennis in exchange for a Miami future second round pick.
The last LBSU player to be drafted prior to Ennis was Andrew Betts in 1998, and oddly enough, he too was taken with pick No. 50. That ’98 selection just so happened to be before the Heat’s No. 51 pick and after the Hawks’ No. 49 selection.
Despite picking so late in the draft, Heat president Pat Riley appeared satisfied with the lone rookie drafted by the organization.
“We feel that James Ennis, with his size and athleticism, has a huge upside and someone we hope can develop into a high-quality NBA player,” Riley told Heat News on the Miami Heat website.
Not every rookie is fortunate enough to be drafted by the reigning NBA champions with a chance to learn from the best player in the game. It also doesn’t hurt that LeBron James plays the same position as Ennis.
While playing for Atlanta would have allowed Ennis more time to play — given the less impressive lineup and possible relocation of Hawks’ forward Josh Smith via free agency — Ennis is in a better situation despite the fact that he will likely be filling a role next season that won’t allow him to see the floor much.
Miami will have 12 players under contract next season and four of those players, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, James Jones and James, will all be ahead of Ennis in head coach Erik Spoelstra’s lineup. It also doesn’t help Ennis that Jones, who will most likely be ahead of Ennis in the depth chart, didn’t have a consistent role in Spoelstra’s rotation this postseason.
This by no means is a bad thing for Ennis as a player. This could actually be the best possible situation for the young forward from Ventura, Calif.
Although it’s likely his first start may happen a year or two from now, the playing time will come for Ennis as long as he proves he can contribute at the next level, whether it’s in practice or during time spent filling in for an injured teammate. But before then, Ennis will have the opportunity to soak up as much knowledge as he can from championship-ring-yielding teammates James, Battier, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.
Luckily for Ennis, it is a lineup primarily made up of vets, 11 of whom have logged 10 or more seasons in the NBA.
The Miami Heat will attempt to three-peat next season, and Ennis will most likely be along for the ride. But if Ennis can impress the coaches and show management that they chose the right guy, he’ll be able to contribute on a contender as long as the core of James, Wade and Bosh remain in place.