CAMDEN, N.J. — James Ennis came over to his media availability after practice Tuesday with a little extra pep in his step.
And why not?
He’s playing arguably the best basketball of his NBA career and doing so for a team that wants to compete for an NBA title. Ennis has been on a torrid shooting pace, hitting 50 percent of his threes (17 of 34) over the last 11 games.
“So I'm considered a ‘hot guy’ now,” Ennis said, “so a lot of guys are flying at me, so I have to put the ball on the ground and I can definitely get to the lane a lot easier now.”
The term “hot guy” is what you think: Opposing teams will have him on the scouting report as a player they need to keep tabs on beyond the arc. That’s led to Ennis’ defenders having more aggressive and, at times, reckless closeouts, opening things up for him to drive.
It’s a label Ennis is clearly enjoying.
“Definitely. I want to be known as a ‘hot guy,’ [that's why] I wanna knock down shots,” Ennis said. “I can get people with my shot fake now, 'cause I'm a ‘hot guy.’”
This is a man simply oozing with confidence right now.
It hasn’t always been easy for Ennis in his professional basketball career. After being drafted in the second round by the Hawks in the 2013 NBA draft, his rights were traded to the Heat. Ennis decided instead to play overseas in Australia. After a stint in Puerto Rico, Ennis joined Miami and began his NBA journey.
The bouncing around continued as Ennis had stops in Memphis, New Orleans, Memphis (again), Detroit and Houston before landing in Philly. After coming over at the trade deadline from the Rockets, Ennis was a big part of the Sixers’ rotation into the postseason. There was clearly a mutual interest in bringing Ennis back this offseason.
His head coach, who knows plenty about basketball in Australia, was asked if he’s seen a swagger to Ennis lately.
“It seems so. I guess there is. And good for him,” Brett Brown said. “He's a great story. We all kind of follow his career and he too, has an Australian experience in Perth, a great part of Australia on the Indian Ocean, sort of all on the western side of the country all by itself. And he's come from sort of hidden with Miami and then went overseas and had a taste with Houston. And now here he is with us and he's having a hell of a year, and he has been shooting the ball well, and I think he's been playing pretty good defense.”
At one point in Monday night’s win over the Jazz, Ennis nailed a three on the wing and was also fouled. Much to the delight of the crowd, Ennis began doing pushups.
Is that a new celebration?
“I did them back in Australia, but it was nothing,” Ennis said. “I just did it because it was an and-one. I just wanted to show my strength a little bit.”
Unfortunately, Ennis missed the ensuing free throw. He admitted he may have been a little too amped from his on-court workout.
“I did miss, long. So I think it did affect me a little bit, so I probably won't be doing no pushups before my free throws next time.”
Brown was jokingly asked if Ennis would face any discipline for the pushup celebration.
“I’ll have to think about it,” Brown said.
It would probably take a lot more than that to bring this "hot guy" down right now.
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