If bold proclamations were a skill in the NBA, Tyler Ennis just might be right about being the best point guard available in the 2014 draft. He suggested as much, according to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy:
'Definitely,' Ennis said without hesitation when asked if he’s the best point guard in the class. 'I think I have the ability to lead a team, I think I have the ability to make others better and I think I’m able to put those together into a true point guard, who is also able to score when my team needs me. There are a lot of guys who can really score the ball, maybe some who can score better than me, but none that can put together the whole package as a point guard better than I can in this draft.'
Kennedy notes that Ennis' statement implicitly ranks him "ahead of Dante Exum and Marcus Smart among others."
But at least Ennis makes an argument for himself. If his basketball skills ever fail him, he should have a ready-made career in sales.
There's certainly a premium placed on floor generals who can score and distribute in equal proportion, so maybe Ennis has a point.
The Syracuse product averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists in his freshman campaign with the Orange. He also tallied 2.1 steals per game, showing a nice awareness on the defensive end. And at 6'2", Ennis has the physical tools to become the complete two-way player he aspires to be.
On the other hand, Syracuse.com's Donna Ditota suggests that Ennis' stock has dropped a bit, writing, "At the time he declared for the NBA draft, the consensus was he would be a lottery pick. But as the days and weeks have marched on, concerns about Ennis in general and his athleticism in particular have surfaced."
The consensus seems to be that Ennis doesn't have the most elite upside but could become a model of consistency. According to ESPN Insider Chad Ford's analysis (subscription required):
What he offers is something very rare in a freshman: steadiness. Ennis is a no-mistakes type of point guard who almost always makes the right play. He can score, he can pass and he'll defend. He doesn't do any one thing great, but he's a guy who can step in and play smart from Day 1. The Kings, Nuggets and Magic all will have interest in him in the lottery.
As intimated by Ennis himself, part of his charm is decision making. In the tradition of guys like Chris Paul and Steve Nash, Ennis has a knack for knowing what to do and when to do it—the kind of knack that's very difficult to coach.
By the time the draft has come and gone, Ennis may well find himself a lottery pick. He may not go as high as Exum—who's viewed by many as a potential star—but Ennis could get out of the gate fastest once his rookie season starts, showing composure and ability far beyond his years.
We'll find out where Ennis goes soon enough. Catch the NBA draft on Thursday, June 26.