Over fifty games into the regular season, the Philadelphia 76ers don’t exactly feel like the team many people expected them to be. A slow, clunky offense and an up-and-down defense have the front office trying to make corrections to the roster before the playoff push begins. The trade deadline is just a week away and the Sixers could be one of the more involved teams in the league; several names are being thrown around, both coming in and being sent out. Based upon his recently diminished role, one of the players who could be heading out of town is James Ennis.
One of the more reliable bench options to start the season, Ennis brought his brand of frenetic energy to both sides of the court on most nights. Granted, Ennis isn't going to be a long-term building block for the Sixers, but if the team is as serious as they say they are about winning a championship soon, he should be getting some run each night.
The franchise’s decision makers seemingly don’t agree, as they have drastically cut Ennis’ minutes in favor of playing rookie Matisse Thybulle more. Thybulle should be playing a sizable role on this team, but cutting Ennis completely out of the rotation seems like an odd way to do that, especially when one of the team’s biggest problems in the past was not having enough playable wings.
On January 17, head coach Brett Brown commented to the media that he needed to grow Matisse Thybulle more, especially in the absence of Joel Embiid. Since that comment, Ennis has played sparingly, averaging 7.1 minutes per game in eight games, dipping even further to 5.8 minutes in the last six games prior to Monday night’s blowout loss to the Miami Heat. Now used in a mop-up role more than anything else, Ennis isn’t able to show off the skills that made many excited by his addition halfway through last year.
Fans might not want to hear this, but right now there really is no reason for Ennis to be sitting in favor of Mike Scott. The fan favorite Scott is known for his 3-point shot, but he can’t find any kind of rhythm this season, especially as of late. If he isn’t bringing the floor-spacing ability he is known for, then he doesn’t help the team much. His defense is a minus and he doesn't help out all that much on the boards.
Whether James Ennis is in Brett Brown’s doghouse for unknown reasons or not, there really is no reason for him not to be part of the rotation. Ennis plays hard night in and night out. He should be getting a chance to make some type of impact in more meaningful moments than the end of a blowout.
Is this the type of move that will affect the grand scheme of things? Probably not. Will Ennis even be a part of the rotation come playoff time? Also most likely a no. But with the team fighting for a higher seed after weeks of sleeping through the regular season, they need as much fire power as they can get, even if a move to Ennis only makes a difference in the regular season. Championship teams are able to get the most out of the players all the way down their bench. Ennis should be one of those players that can help make a difference.