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Pass-first guard Tyler Ennis adds depth to already-dynamic Suns backcourt

PHOENIX — It would be easy to connect a few dots.

Eric Bledsoe a point guard, and P.J. Tucker, a small forward, are restricted free agents. Forward/Center Channing Frye opted out of his contract earlier in the week and is now an unrestricted free agent.

Thursday night, the Phoenix Suns spent the first two of their three first-round picks on North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren, a small forward, and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, a point guard. And with their second-round pick, 50th overall, they added Wisconsin-Green Bay center Alec Brown.

“I guess with free agency you’re not sure what’s going to happen,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said. “We’re really high on the three free agents we have. We’d like to bring all of them back if we’re able to do that.

“We didn’t draft anybody to be replacements for those guys, let’s put it that way. We drafted these guys because we think they can help solidify our depth and because we want to keep bringing young talent into the pipeline and we think they can be really good players down the road. But our top priority would be to bring back the free agents that we have and add these guys to that group.”

For the most part, you don’t have to argue too hard to make sense of the team selecting Warren, Brown or Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Serbian guard selected at No. 27 overall.

But when it comes to Ennis, that’s a different story.

A 6-foot-2, 180-pound player, his only position is point guard, and the Suns appear to be pretty well set at that spot with Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.

“We really value having multiple ball handlers on the floor,” McDonough said. “We think our ability to run pick-and-rolls on either side of the floor and also push the ball in transition either via the pass or via the dribble, we feel like that’s a strength for us so we wanted to keep adding to it.”

Ennis, who averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists per game, is viewed as more of a “true” point guard than either Bledsoe or Dragic, and could conceivably play alongside either one.

And if all goes according to plan, he’d also be capable of leading the team while one — or both — of the team’s backcourt duo is on the bench for a breather.

At any rate, the depth at the position does not worry him, as he said he has no problem with having to earn his minutes. But given how his game differs from the team’s other point guards, the perceived congestion at the position may not be as much as an issue as some think.

“I think that’s something that really caught the front office and the coaching staff’s eye,” Ennis said. “I’m a pure point guard, a pass-first guy who is able to come in and make others better.”

That is something the Suns did not have.

Of course, that’s not to say Ennis won’t at some point serve as a replacement for either Bledsoe or Dragic. At best, he could become a vital depth player at a position where the team needs as much quality as it can get. At worst, he may be insurance for the team.

Either way, Ennis should be able to find a role in the Valley of the Sun. His strengths as a distributor who can also score a little bit are not unlike that of another point guard who used to wear the Purple and Orange, and as it happens both Ennis and two-time MVP Steve Nash hail from north of the border.

“Hopefully I can bring the same success that Steve brought, that would be great,” he said.

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