PHILADELPHIA - James Ennis has come a long way since his lone season spent playing in the NBL with the Perth Wildcats.
Now a six year NBA veteran, Ennis started the current campaign as a member of the Houston Rockets and was seen as a readymade replacement for Trevor Ariza as the Rockets chased the franchise’s third NBA championship.
Ennis’ Rockets career came to an abrupt end on Thursday, when he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the midst of the NBA’s trade deadline madness. Switching teams for the fifth time in his NBA career forces Ennis to start again, in a brand new city no less, but that doesn’t change his expectations.
“I just have one goal and that’s winning,” Ennis told reporters today in Philadelphia. “We are trying to win a championship so when everyone has one goal, you glue fast, everything can come together quick and just have fun.”
Ennis’ comments give voice to the expectations that have arisen in Philadelphia following his acquisition, and that of Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanović and Mike Scott from the Los Angeles Clippers this week.
With Harris joining Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler to form what is being dubbed locally as the Sixers “Big 4,” the Sixers believe they have the most talented roster in the Eastern Conference.
Brett Brown, when speaking on expectations for the remainder of the season today, admitted that an NBA Finals appearance is the goal for his squad. “That’s what our goal should be,” Brown admitted.
While initially shocked by the trade, Ennis is happy to be in Philadelphia and continuing his personal pursuit for a maiden NBA championship.
“I was kind of shocked at first,” Ennis said of his trade. “Things happen, it’s a business and who doesn’t want to come here, so when I heard I was coming here and they wanted me, I was very excited.”
Ennis is, of course, just one of many members of the Sixers organisation with ties to Australian basketball. With Brown a former coach of the Boomers, and two children of ex-NBL players, Jonah Bolden and Simmons, firmly entrenched into Philadelphia’s playing rotation, Ennis’ arrival is a further example of the serendipitous relationship between the franchise and Australia.
Ennis was asked to explain his thoughts on playing alongside Simmons, a 208cm point guard, and was lavish with praise for the newly minted NBA All-Star.
“He can pass the ball and his court vision is incredible. I see how he plays. Watch film on him. See how he gets guys open. I think me and him will be a nice combo.”
As a member of the Rockets, Ennis faced off against the Sixers just 18 days ago and got a first hand glimpse of the potential that lies within his new team. On that night, Philadelphia secured an easy 121-93 victory and the showdown, while a bitter defeat for Ennis in the moment, now provides an instructive example of how things could turn out when the NBA postseason begins in April.
“[The 76ers] are a good team and hard to beat. They have All-Stars in [Joel] Embiid, [Ben] Simmons and Jimmy [Butler].
“We played them and they beat us pretty bad when we cam up here, so joining them is a blessing."
Since securing an NBL championship with the Wildcats in March 2014, Ennis has built an NBA career with the Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and the Rockets.
That long winding journey now brings him to Philadelphia, and a city with fans that possess a passion that matches the expectations being heaped upon the team. Ennis says that his convoluted path into becoming an NBA veteran has readied him for this moment with the Sixers and that he is excited to take to the Wells Fargo Center floor and represent his new city.
“I love Philly fans,” Ennis said. “Meek [Mill] is always here. I met AI [Allen Iverson] this morning and I’ve never met him before so it’s crazy. I’m just happy to be here and ready to get going.”
Ennis averaged 7.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 23.7 minutes in 40 games for the Rockets this season.