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The Miami Heat's undrafted Kendrick Nunn is the NBA's early surprise rookie - Interbasket

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The Miami Heat’s undrafted Kendrick Nunn is the NBA’s early surprise rookie

When James Harden dropped 44 points in a preseason game against the Miami Heat earlier this month, it was an expected performance from the former league MVP. What was really unexpected was that in that same game, Harden was nearly outdone by an undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn.

The 6-2 shooting guard was matched up with the Houston Rockets superstar and singed the Beard to the tune of 40 points shooting 15 of 27 from the field, 6 of 10 from three-point range and 4 of 6 on free throws. Asked about his performance vs. his fellow left-hander, Nunn wasn’t surprised.

“I really didn’t lock on a player. I was just playing my game, finding my spots on the floor and making shots. That’s all I did tonight,” Nunn told the Miami Herald. “It felt normal, honestly. I got to play most of the game tonight and I performed well.”

From None to Nunn

Nunn will need several more big nights if he hopes to be noticed in a field of big name rookies featuring Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Ja Morant, and Rui Hachimura. In the shadow of those more well-known rookies, Nunn isn’t just a relative unknown — he is a completely unknown quantity to everyone outside of draft experts.

As mentioned, Nunn wasn’t drafted when he was eligible in the 2018 NBA Draft and spent last season toiling with the G-League team Santa Cruz Warriors.

Even with the work he’s put in, Nunn still isn’t even the most well-known rookie on his own team – that honor goes to another first year player that’s impressed early on — Tyler Herro.

Now Nunn isn’t just on an NBA roster, but he’s starting for the Miami Heat. It’s way early but Nunn has shown that his preseason performance wasn’t a fluke. Through three games, the rookie from Oakland University is averaging 22.3 points on 51.9% from the field and 42% from three in three Miami games.

We don’t expect Nunn to be able to keep that up especially when Jimmy Butler returns, but that won’t be from a lack of going all out on Nunn’s part. “I’m aggressive every time I step on the floor.”

That’s especially true if Nunn continues to improve and study the moves of elite scoring guards like C.J. McCollum. “I study the elite guards in the NBA,” Nunn told Heat Nation. “I have good footwork like C.J. McCollum. He’s real crafty. The elite guards, point guards, that’s where my game will go to another level, just studying that.”

 


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