While it’s just the preseason, the early showing from rookie Kendrick Nunn is certainly highly encouraging for the Miami Heat.
On the second night of a back-to-back to kick off their preseason schedule, the Miami Heat not only gave some of their key players a chance to rest, but also used the opportunity to have a deeper look at some of those clamoring for a spot in the rotation.
One of those players is Kendrick Nunn, who’s entering his second year out of college after spending last season with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA G-League.
Signed by the Heat on the final day of the 2018-19 regular season, Nunn spent the offseason playing with the Heat’s Summer League team and thoroughly impressed in averaging a team-high 22.0 points and 5.2 assists per game. As a result, Nunn earned All-Summer League First Team honors.
Having played just seven minutes in the Heat’s 107-89 win over the San Antonio Spurs, Nunn received 26 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets with Jimmy Butler, Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic all taking the night off. Impressing from the outset, Nunn posted 13 points and seven assists, with his ability to score in a variety of ways the most notable aspect.
Furthermore, having collected just one turnover against the Hornets, Nunn has now posted 11 assists while committing just a single turnover in the preseason, an excellent return for a player still making his way. Additionally, Nunn made it happen defensively, managing to nab three steals and five deflections, both team-highs, in the Heat’s 108-94 win over the Hornets.
Clearly, the work Nunn put in over the summer was enough to impress head coach Erik Spoelstra, which he expressed recently at the beginning of training camp:
“There’s a long lineage of non-drafted Miami HEAT players that have come through our player development program and he is the next notable one. He’s a talent and he has a great work ethic …. he’s not stunned by the expectations or the lights of this organization.”
Having gone undrafted coming out of Oakland University and then completing a full season in the NBA G-League, it’s understandable that Nunn would be highly motivated when forecasting his future, as he did recently:
“Coming in, I just did a little research on the history of the Miami Heat and the guys that came through here undrafted. … Just knowing the type of organization and opportunity I had here. I knew the organization, they embraced guys like me that’s the underdog — undrafted guys that work hard and that are winners.
“Those diamond in the rough guys that they find and I’m one of them.”
So while Winslow and Dragic are ahead of him at this stage in the rotation, the strides made by Nunn, both in the Summer League and the beginning of preseason, have him in terrific stead entering the season.
His clear ability to play both spots in the backcourt, and thus being able to play on and off the ball, should mean Spoelstra finds room in the rotation for the 24-year-old Kendrick Nunn throughout the course of his rookie NBA season.