Ennis says trade to Bucks was very beneficial

Bucks point guard Tyler Ennis averaged 17.2 minutes over his first 16 games with the Bucks before his playing time evaporated late in the season.

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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Tyler Ennis had moments during his rookie season in which he showed why he was the 18th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

A midseason trade from Phoenix to Milwaukee led to additional playing time, but more often than not, Ennis appeared as if he could have used more seasoning in college.

"I think it’s just an adjustment," Ennis said of his jump to the NBA. "The main thing for me was how often you play, and I think that’s something every rookie goes through. In Phoenix I didn’t really see it that much because I wasn’t playing as much minutes.

"When you’re playing, it’s so much different. I kind of know what that’s about now. I’ve got to do a better job eating well and taking care of my body off the court, and my rookie year helped me with that and learn about that."

When the Suns drafted Ennis, Goran Dragic was the starter at point guard. After Phoenix added Isaiah Thomas and brought Eric Bledsoe back as a restricted free agent, it didn’t take Ennis long to realize playing time was going to be scarce with the Suns. 

The 20-year-old averaged 7.3 minutes in just eight games with Phoenix before being traded to the Bucks on Feb. 19 as part of the three-team deal that sent Brandon Knight to the Suns and Michael-Carter Williams and Miles Plumlee to Milwaukee. 

Ennis was immediately thrown into the fire with the Bucks. Because Carter-Williams was injured, Ennis played 18 minutes and scored four points on 1-of-4 shooting off the bench the night after the trade.

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"I was actually sick and had an ear infection, so it was all just a bad combination," Ennis said of his first game with the Bucks. "Coach (Jason Kidd) trusted me from Day 1, and that helped me with my confidence coming into a new team as a rookie. I think that helped me so much being able to come in and play and for him to trust me right off the bat."

Ennis ended up averaging 17.2 minutes over his first 16 games with the Bucks, averaging 4.9 points and shooting 34.4 percent from the field. His playing time evaporated by the end of the regular season, but Ennis still took something from the experience of meaningful late-season and playoff games. 

"It’s great because you’re in the game, and there are some things you don’t see," Ennis said. "Every timeout, I was over talking to (Kidd) and learning from him just listening to what he was telling to MCW, (Jerryd) Bayless and other guards.

"I was basically being a sponge and taking it all up. Whatever he says, I’m there to capitalize on." 

Ennis has the physical gifts necessary to make it in the NBA, but he has a long ways to go in order to improve as a scorer, a distributor and a defender.

Ennis, who will turn 21  in August, will play in the NBA Summer League with the Bucks if his commitment to the Canadian National Team allows him to. Team Canada, which is led by young talent such as Andrew Wiggins, Ennis, Anthony Bennett and Nik Stauskas, is set to play in the Pan American Games in Toronto in July and then in the FIBA Americas Championship, an Olympic qualifier, in August.

The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas runs from July 10-20, almost the identical time frame of the Pan American Games.

"I’m playing with Team Canada this summer, so the plan is that I will be able to do both," Ennis said. "Just to be able to get out there (in summer league) and see the difference going from a rookie coming in and then a year after going in with a year under my belt. I’m just really excited to get back out there."

In addition to improving on the court, Ennis hopes to make strides physically going into his second NBA season. The 6-foot-3 guard is listed at just 175 pounds.

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"I definitely want to gain a bit of weight and strength and continue to get in the best shape that I can," Ennis said. "I think I can do a better job of that going into next year knowing how much we run and how aggressive we play defense. Being in the best shape possible is only going to help."

Things certainly could change between now and training camp, but Ennis currently is one of four point guards on Milwaukee’s roster. Carter-Williams is the projected starter, while Ennis will compete with Jerryd Bayless and Jorge Gutierrez for time off the bench.

Moving forward, the Bucks view Carter-Williams and Ennis as their top two point guards. Bayless is entering the final year of his contract and could play more of a combo guard spot off the bench if Ennis is ready to be the primary backup.

"I’m really fortunate to end up here in this organization, one with young players and one that’s on the rise," Ennis said. "As long as we continue to work, I think we definitely want to get back to where we were this year as far as getting to the playoffs.

"Everybody welcomed (me) with open arms and they took care of (me) with open arms. I’m really thankful to be here and I’m really looking forward to this summer and next season already."

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