With a handful of key players out, the Miami Heat turned to NBA G League alum Kendrick Nunn to ignite a flame and the young gun hasn’t disappointed.
Being called upon to supply such an injection of life at a moment’s notice is nothing new for minor league athletes. However, the timing of this necessary boost is what’s so unlikely. Miami is leaning on Nunn to help them get off to a hot start this season, and in turn, he’s doing things no NBA rookie has ever done before.
Following a 28-point performance in Miami’s 106-97 win over Atlanta on Halloween, here’s a closer look at some of the feats the 24-year-old has already accomplished:
- His 112 points through his first five games are the most by an undrafted rookie in NBA history, and he’s the first undrafted player to total 100 points at all.
- Nunn (112) has scored the third most points by a rookie in NBA history, trailing just Jerry Stackhouse (124 in 1995-96) and Kevin Durant (113 in 2007-08).
- The 24 year old is the first undrafted rookie since the first NBA draft in 1947 to score 25+ points in two of his team’s first 10 games of a season.
- Amassing 112 total points, Nunn has scored more than any player in their first five games with the Heat — including LeBron James (102) and Dwyane Wade (57).
Though he’s making eyes pop while getting a chance to shine on a more nationalized stage, one could argue that there was plenty of foreshadowing in Nunn’s past success. He averaged 19.3 points per game as a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors last season. All but one of his 49 appearances came off the bench, with both he and the team thinking that providing a spark off the bench would help him prove he’d be ready and able to contribute in a similar role at the NBA level. The irony here is that the rapid riser has started his first five games for Miami, clearly shattering any early expectations.
Despite his rookie status, Nunn was actually reeled in by Miami toward the end of last season. He was signed to a multi-year deal on April 10, and while he didn’t appear in a game, the youngster used this opportunity to acclimate himself to his new team’s culture, atmosphere, and overall offensive schemes. He impressed during Summer League competition, averaging 24 points in Sacramento, and then 21 points and over six assists in Las Vegas.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Nunn’s 40-point outburst during NBA preseason undoubtedly proved he was primed to make a splash.
Nunn has officially arrived, and he’s doing all he can to make himself a household name. While it remains to be seen if he can keep up the same level of intensity as his rookie campaign continues, it’s safe to say he was well prepared for his chance.