Kendrick Nunn has had a magnificent start to his NBA career. He set a record for most points by an undrafted player in their first 5 games with 112 points. Now he is averaging 19.5 PPG and has started in all 6 of the Heat’s regular-season games. An undrafted rookie is rarely a starter to start their career. The only problem is, is that he is not an ordinary rookie. Nunn started his collegiate career in 2013 with the University of Illinois. He played 3 seasons with them and played well, but it all went downhill after that. One night he went to a friend’s apartment and claimed she owed him money. This led to a shouting match and when the cops came, they had different statements of what happened. She claimed that he attempted to choke her as there were red marks around her neck. If you want more on that situation, please read George Sipple’s article “Hoops star Nunn making life rebound at Oakland”(https://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/2018/02/23/oakland-basketball-kendrick-nunn-greg-kampe/331983002/). After that night, The Illinois basketball team cut him from their program. This led to a gap year for him and then went and played his senior season at Oakland. In Oakland, he had a career year averaging 25.9 PPG. He still went undrafted though and his allegations most likely had something to do with that, but the Warriors gave him the opportunity to play with their G-League team in the 2018-2019 season. The Heat then signed him to their Summer League team. After his performance in Summer League, he signed with the Heat for 3 years for roughly $3 million in total.
Kendrick Nunn Scouting Report
Weight: 190 lbs.
Kendrick Nunn can score from all 3 levels. He gets good lift and has a quick release on his jump shot. Nunn is effective driving right and has a great left-handed 2 footed floater that allows him to get his shot off before a shot-blocker comes. This move can also avoid any charge attempts as he comes to a jump stop before taking the shot. He is a threat to make his defender pay for going under or over the screen. Nunn has a scorer’s mentality and has a lot of confidence in his ability to score. Kendrick is a North-South player, so he doesn’t waste possessions by overdribbling. He can make nice passes on occasion. Nunn will move off the ball and has a good understanding of spacing. This credit could go to the Heat as no one is not moving without the ball, but Nunn has done his part. On defense, he puts in a decent effort and can cause turnovers and take advantage of an offensive player’s mistake. He is average in terms of staying in front of his man for a guard.
At 6’2, he is undersized for a guard. He is more of a combo guard than a point guard with his score-first mentality. He lacks advanced ball-handling as well as elite quickness. He can’t beat a defender 1v1 without a screen. This is concerning because if a big switches on him, he won’t be able to beat him consistently like many of the other scoring guards in the NBA. He is fairly turnover prone for a point guard and doesn’t have a good turnover to assist ratio. Kendrick can be a little lazy of a dribbler and passer as it looks like he is just going through the motions at times. Nunn is very left hand dominant. He can dribble with his right good enough so he won’t turn it over, but he is not a threat to score driving right. He does have better fundamentals than your typical rookie, however, Kendrick is 24 years old. I can’t pretend that that doesn’t matter. In the half-court, he hasn’t shown he can finish at the rim as he will never going up and finish through contact against a big. This is evident as he has only shot 9 free throws in 6 games while taking about 16 shots per game. On defense, his lack of size, speed, and elite instincts hurt him even if he does his best.
Despite how impressive Nunn has been for an undrafted player, there are concerns about how he will continue to play. No one watched Nunn in college, teams don’t know his tendencies and weaknesses yet. Reality is going to hit Nunn soon though as teams are going to gameplan for him and stop a majority of his offense if they take away that left-handed floater. Then Nunn is going to have to rely heavily on his jump shot. His mechanics are good and has that quick and high release, but he isn’t the type of player that can serve solely as a 3 point specialist. Kendrick is going to compete every night though. It could help him if he looks to be a facilitator, but has been used to trying to be the scorer for his whole life so it definitely wouldn’t be an easy transition. Defensively, it is going to be hard for him to defend starting guards in the NBA. This league is filled with so many talented guards that can score at a high level and Nunn is bound to struggle. Kendrick Nunn might start the rest of this season if they want to continue having Dragic come off the bench, but he is not a franchise point guard.
Article written by Bradley Patten
Measurables, contracts, and stats found on Basketball-Reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com)
Photo credit to the Miami Herald (https://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nba/miami-heat/article236224933.html)