RealGM Basketball

Bakersfield Jam BlogBakersfield Jam Blog

Suns' Rookies Highlight D-League Opener

While most basketball fans were probably busy enjoying a quality slate of NBA games or the opening night of college basketball yesterday, Friday also marked the beginning of the 2014-15 D-League season. Rookie first round picks T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis took the floor for the Bakersfield Jam and made a nice impression on opening night. While Bakersfield lost to the Texas Legends 127-125, it certainly wasn’t because of the play from the rookies.

On Bakersfield’s first field goal of the game, Ennis blew by a defender and found a cutting Warren for a bucket – a play Phoenix eventually hopes to see at the NBA level. The duo started 7-of-7 from the field and provided plenty of excitement in the opener.

Although Warren had seen just one minute in the NBA, he proved why he was worth the lottery selection. The 6-foot-8 small forward scored 40 points while shooting 16-of-27 from the field, 3-of-7 from three-point range, and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. He added another six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three turnovers.

Warren got off to a hot start, with 12 points in less than six minutes of action, and made his first five attempts from the field. He was most effective in transition, as he loved using a right to left euro step to draw contact and finish at the rim. Warren made a pair of and-one finishes and showed his athleticism with a soaring dunk early on. He moved well without the ball and made a floater with 15.5 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Warren had a bit of everything in his scoring arsenal, but showed improvements as a jump shooter.

As the 14th overall pick out of N.C. State, Warren was known as a pure scorer. He averaged 24.9 points per game as a sophomore while shooting 52.5% from the field. The major question came in his shooting ability, as he averaged less than one made three-pointer per game and shot just 26.7% from behind the arc. On Friday, he had no issues finding his offense and his 3-of-7 display from deep showed potential.

Ennis had a solid night of his own. The 6-foot-2 point guard scored 25 points on 11-of-23 shooting along with six rebounds, five assists, four turnovers, and three steals. He showed growth as a mid-range shooter, making 5-of-7 mid-range jumpers, but was just 1-of-5 from three-point range.

After a stellar freshman campaign, Ennis declared early for the draft and the Syracuse product will have a tough time finding NBA minutes in a crowded Phoenix backcourt. He’s played 18 minutes this season, but averaged more turnovers than points per game early on. As a 20-year-old rookie, Ennis will certainly be in Phoenix’s long-term plans and Friday’s contest showed why.

He’s a crafty ball handler that used a spin move to attack the basket on multiple occasions and did a good job setting up his teammates. Ennis uses screens effectively on the offensive end, but will need to work as a defender, especially in his pick-and-roll defense. He can lead an offense, but his lack of elite athleticism could hurt him against quicker guards.

The rookie tandem formed a nice 1-2 punch in Bakersfield’s first game as the Phoenix Suns single affiliate. With the new affiliation, Phoenix will be able to manage the minutes of its young prospects while incorporating its own system. It looks like a nice investment with so much young talent on the roster.

Warren and Ennis are only expected to be in Bakersfield for one more game before joining Phoenix on an East Coast road trip, but look for some assignments throughout the year. The Suns used a similar method with Archie Goodwin, who averaged 24.3 points per game in five games with the Jam last year. With an array of young prospects and a new affiliation, Bakersfield will be a team to follow this season.


Basketball Wiretap Headlines

    NBA Wiretap Headlines

      NCAA Wiretap Headlines

        MLB Wiretap Headlines

          NFL Wiretap Headlines

            NHL Wiretap Headlines

              Soccer Wiretap Headlines