Could Tyler Ennis Become The Next Mike Bibby?


The NBA has an endless fascination with point guards, ranging from their play styles to their personalities. When players and people as drastically different as Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are all pigeon-holed into the one positional label, it’s easy to understand why that is too.

There aren’t many franchises, and their fanbases, who are currently more obsessed with point guard than the Milwaukee Bucks though.

The Bucks are coached by one of the greatest point guards ever, traded away a point guard who scored so much that many preferred to describe him as a shooting guard for a point guard who was recently Rookie of the Year, and they spent most of the summer with five point guards on their roster.

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Point guards. Point guards. Point guards.

It would be easy to get tired of it all, if it wasn’t for the fact that there seems to be a different twist and turn, or a new storyline emerging on a daily basis.

Think of the past ten days alone. The Bucks had Michael Carter-Williams’ injury. Then Jerryd Bayless showed up with a couple of monster performances. There was also Greivis Vasquez’s 0-10 shooting night from the field. Perhaps, more quietly than all of that, young Tyler Ennis has started four straight games though.

Ennis returned from his own off-season injury problems, following a hip surgery, and bedded straight in to Jason Kidd’s rotation in a meaningful way. He hasn’t been forceful, he hasn’t been dominant, but he has been effective.

Nov 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Tyler Ennis (11) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In his four starts, Ennis has averaged 6.0 points and 1.5 assists, while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and has made two of his three attempts from behind the arc.

He hasn’t been a particularly big positive, or even a negative, and in fact his plus/minus for his first three starts rounded out at a perfectly neutral zero, but there’s an argument to be made that that’s exactly what this Milwaukee Bucks team needs.

One of the biggest concerns that people like to level against this current Bucks group is that there might be too many ball-dominant players on the roster for them to succeed.

Taking what most perceive to be Milwaukee’s strongest starting five of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe, the Bucks put out a lineup of five guys who certainly seem like they need plenty of the ball in their hands.

Sometimes, an NBA offense can be more inclined to thrive with a point guard who understands and accepts his role, often showing a willingness to blend into the background for the good of the team.

The Houston Rockets may have made what many perceived to be an upgrade at point guard this summer with the addition of Ty Lawson, yet they thrived for a couple of seasons with a quiet specialist at the wheel in the form of Patrick Beverley.

There’s a precedent for great NBA teams with backseat point guards too.

When the Los Angeles Lakers had Kobe Bryant paired with Shaquille O’Neal, and more regularly with Pau Gasol years later, Derek Fisher quietly went about his business on championship winning teams at the point guard spot.

Before Fisher, Ron Harper had successfully made the transition from being an active borderline All-Star, to a more passive accommodator alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls.

Even if we’re not to stretch the example quite as far as championship winning teams, there are other notable names who built stellar careers without being primary options from the point guard spot too.

During the Fox Sports Wisconsin broadcast of Tuesday night’s game with the Boston Celtics, Gus Johnson praised the positive impact that he felt that Tyler Ennis had been having on the team’s then successful run of games. He even let the viewers in on some thoughts coach Jason Kidd shared with him.

"I talked to Jason Kidd on the bench the other day, and I said, ‘Who does he remind you of?’ He said ‘Mike Bibby. Mike Bibby, all day long.’"

Nov 20, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings former player Mike Bibby sits court side next to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Chicago Bulls 103-88. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Marques Johnson was in agreement saying he found that Ennis had “a lot of the same demeanour” as Bibby, “and that he looked like he’s been there before”.

Bibby may never have won a title, or made All-Star games, but whether it was in Sacramento, Atlanta, Miami or New York, the New Jersey native contributed to a lot of wins and made the playoffs in 10 of his 14 NBA seasons.

Players like Giannis and Jabari look set to become the Bucks stars if all goes to plan. That’s not to say that Michael Carter-Williams won’t be a key part of Milwaukee’s plans too, but if Ennis can continue to offer consistent and steady minutes, there’s at least an alternative worth considering.

Ennis like many other guards around the NBA doesn’t need to get caught up in being a bona fide superstar. Becoming a modern day Mike Bibby would do just fine for him, and possibly for the fortunes of these Milwaukee Bucks.