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Kendrick Nunn: “Putting in Non-Stop Work”

Kendrick Nunn spoke with media as well on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve been putting in non-stop work.”

The specific improvements that he’s been trying to make this off-season have been his catch and shoot game. He mentioned that he’s “trying to improve in areas that I will be needed most for my team.” And he’s of the mindset that will be off the ball.

He is still focused on his point guard qualities, since he said he’s “learning how to be a lead guard and a play-maker.” He followed that mentioning that the main job of a guard is to be an on-court leader.

He was very excited to have his mentor Goran Dragic return for this season, saying “He leads by example, that’s one thing I’ve learned from Goran, how hard he works.”

Another improvement that he’s been focused on is his body. He reiterated that staying in shape is the most important thing since you’re always playing at your highest level. He mentioned that he dropped 8 to 10 pounds, but “got that back once I started working out.”

Obviously he caught Covid before heading into the bubble, which can clearly take a toll on your body. When speaking about Covid, he said “Obviously it’s a contagious virus, and you can catch it again after catching it once.” He then follows that saying “I’ve had it previously but I’m scared to catch it again.”

The Covid precautions will clearly make this season very unique, but Kendrick Nunn and the rest of the team seem to be ready. As Kendrick said about going to the championship, “We’re just looking to do that again, and get better and win it all.”

Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, Kendrick Nunn mentioned the fact that “Guys are gonna be fighting for their spot come training camp.” This is something I’ve been mentioning quite a lot, since Kendrick Nunn is possibly the fifth guard on the roster.

Training camp will be like a mini showcase for Miami, since even though this team is one, every player is fighting for themselves to prove their worth.

Kendrick Nunn: Bounce-Back or Bounce-Out

Kendrick Nunn is probably one of the more intriguing players heading into this next season for the Miami Heat.

He had a solid rookie season, in which he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. But after a disappointing bubble stretch, he isn’t getting the same respect.

He had some personal issues and Covid when he was heading in, so it was obvious that basketball wasn’t the primary thing on his mind. Then he went from starting point guard to out of the rotation, so that clearly had to weigh on his mind as well.

But what stood out most, in my opinion, was the heart he showed in the NBA Finals when he got some minutes. There were many moments that Miami couldn’t get anything going, since they were without Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, but Nunn stepped up and hit some shots like he did all season.

With all that said, it seems as if Nunn should go back to a similar role heading into his second season, but that’s not the case.

He will be the third guard coming off the bench, since Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley will clearly have a bigger role than Nunn. As I’ve mentioned though, depth will be key this season and Miami has it, but Nunn still won’t have a defined role in the rotation.

There’s still a chance he can get some free-lancing minutes and shine, but there just isn’t a clear opening in the rotation to insert Kendrick Nunn right now.

That means that Erik Spoelstra will experiment with him in the first half of the season, then Miami can consider flipping him at the deadline.

Once again, his offensive talent has shined many times, which means he should be getting minutes and trying to develop with a defined role in this league. But I’m not so sure Miami fits that criteria for him right now.

We will see what ends up happening this season, and if Nunn can show out for the Heat right away, then that’s a good problem to have if you’re Miami. But then it’s decision time for Erik Spoelstra and the coaching staff.

Kendrick Nunn: More Than A Trade Asset

It seems as if the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the name Kendrick Nunn is a trade asset. It’s definitely a possibility if Miami looks to make a big trade, since he’s an enticing young player, but for now he’s apart of this Miami Heat’s young core going forward.

Due to the unfortunate circumstances with Covid-19, which forced the league to go into a hiatus and eventually a bubble, many seem to forget the success that Kendrick Nunn had during the regular season.

Kendrick averaged 15 points a game as the starting point guard for one of the best starting lineups in the NBA. He also finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, only behind Ja Morant, an emerging young star.

Some of Kendrick Nunn’s bubble struggles seem to be the first thing on people’s minds when discussing him, and rightfully so since they last saw him play at a high level about nine months ago.

Those struggles in the bubble did not mean that Kendrick Nunn’s rookie season was a fluke. He had some unfortunate things come up such as testing positive for Covid and other personal things, which resulted in his exit from the rotation.

Although that did happen, the part that should be even more fresh in fan’s minds is the fact that he battled through all of that adversity and showed up in the Finals. That stood out to the Miami Heat’s organization, since that proved he’s a Miami Heat type player.

Once again, of course when discussing possible trade moves, his name will be inserted due to his value right now. But that’s definitely not all he is. The Miami Heat would love to bring him back next season and continue to develop him even more. His relationship with fellow rookie Tyler Herro is another thing that stands out, since they’re going to be looking to make a big second year jump together.

We will see if Miami decides to make a trade this off-season to improve this team right now, but if they don’t, Kendrick Nunn is more than capable of making a big impact next season on the offensive side of the ball.

Could Miami Go From Kendrick Nunn to Kris Dunn?

Other than Kris Dunn and Kendrick Nunn’s rhyming last names, they share absolutely nothing alike.

Kendrick Nunn showed throughout this regular season that he is a pretty natural scorer of the basketball, even though it was hard to see that during some stretches of the postseason. Kendrick’s downfall though is that he is not a great defender, and that is what Miami lacked this past season.

Kris Dunn, on the other hand, is one of the league’s best guard defenders in the league. He received the most votes for the all-defensive team among those who didn’t make it this season.

Kris was second in steals per game this season with 2.0 a game, only trailing Ben Simmons with 2.1, which Dunn averaged 10 less minutes a game.

Not only was his name at the top of the defensive statistics like defensive plus/minus, deflections, and loose balls, but he also elevated the Chicago Bulls to a top 10 defense before his injury.

All of these things show pretty clearly how effective he is defensively, but how is he offensively?

Well, he really isn’t the most efficient player. In 51 games played this season, he averaged 7 points a game shooting 26% from three.

That may look bad on a stat sheet, but it really isn’t all his fault.

He did not seem to have a fitting role on this past season’s Chicago Bulls team, especially with Zach Lavine having a decent season, which he controlled the ball most of the time. Dunn was attempting under seven shots a game, which further proves that he wasn’t very comfortable.

And with that offensive uncertainty, many teams will not have as much urge to jump at that type of player.

Unless, you are the Miami Heat.

Miami had one of the most dynamic offensive teams throughout this regular season, due to the shooting out-pour of Duncan Robinson, the evolution of Tyler Herro, and the throwback Goran Dragic season. It’s obvious that Miami doesn’t need scoring right now, they just need exactly what Kris Dunn is.

Kris Dunn is a restricted free agent, which means that Chicago will still have the opportunity to match a possible Miami Heat offer. But would they want to?

They had a pretty good rookie showing from their new point guard last season, in Coby White. And they now have the fourth pick in this NBA years NBA draft. It’s clear the way they’re heading with this roster, and it doesn’t seem that Kris Dunn will be apart of it.

It truly seems like a win-win situation for both Kris Dunn and the Miami Heat. Miami gets their guard defender, while Dunn gets a fitting role.

If Miami has an opportunity to pull off this signing without hurting their other off-season plans and re-signings, I believe they should do it.

 

3 Keys for the Miami Heat to Win Game 2 of NBA Finals

The Miami Heat are currently down in the series, 1-0, against the Los Angeles Lakers. It seemed to get worse and worse for Miami after game one, since Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo are both doubtful for game two. Here’s what must happen for Miami to get a huge win in game two…

#1: Rookie experience turns into rookie production.

It’s not normal for a team to look towards two rookies in the NBA finals to take the offensive load, but that’s exactly what Miami will do. For starters, it’s clear that Tyler Herro doesn’t shy away from big moments, even though he struggled a bit in game one. He even told media, “I don’t think there is much pressure,” which further proves he’s ready for this. Tyler won’t be the only rookie depended on in game two, since Kendrick Nunn will be getting his number called as well. He’s been the big talk around this team recently, since he showed up big in the second half of game one, and will be back in the rotation for Goran Dragic. Kendrick relies solely on confidence, and now he seems as confident as ever heading into tonight’s game. Tyler and Kendrick will need to grow up quick, since they will not be looked at as rookies anymore. Instead, they are the keys to the offense.

#2: The Justice Winslow trade assets show up big with increased minutes.

Miami acquired Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, and Soloman Hill in a trade for Justice Winslow at the trade deadline, and it has clearly payed off. Now, it will need to prove so once again, since they will be getting increased minutes due to Miami’s injuries. Miami will need all of them to show up at their absolute best, Jae Crowder with his shooting, Andre Iguodala with his leadership and impact, and Soloman Hill with his defensive presence. It’s no longer about stars winning them these games. Now, it’s about role players playing to the best of their abilities. This is where the Heat culture will be on display. The grit, scrappiness, and intensity will need to shine in game two, and that will start with Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, and Soloman Hill.

#3: Jimmy Butler takes over the game, doing it for the injured Goran Dragic.

Even though many believe Miami is losing hope in winning this NBA finals, Jimmy Butler “begs to differ.” Even with Goran Dragic out, he told media “He’s carried us to this point. It’s only right we pay that back to him now.” And that’s exactly what he will need to do. He was hunting to score the ball in game one right out of the gate, which is what will be needed again in game two. He’s clearly capable of doing so, but he constantly says when he gets others around him going, it translates to wins. The only difference is that usually when they go through tough stretches, Goran would take initiative to get a bucket and get them out of it. Now that responsibility is on Jimmy Butler. If he plays at peak Jimmy Butler levels, Miami can win this game, and it’ll all be for the injured Goran Dragic.

Next Man Up or All Men Up

In game one of the NBA finals, both Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo went out with an injury, and are now doubtful for game two on Friday night.

So now, it’s that next man up mentality.

If there was any team prepared for this type of situation, it would be this Miami Heat squad. Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, and Derrick Jones Jr have been patiently waiting for their moment, and now it has finally come.

The most notable is Kendrick Nunn, since he came in the game during the second half of game one, and absolutely shined. 18 points on 8 for 11 shooting proved he still has it in him.

And that’s because he has stayed ready, which is what everyone on this roster has been trying to instill in him since he was taken out of the rotation. Jae Crowder told media that he’s been telling Kendrick to stay prepared since the Indiana series, since it was tough for him to realize. Andre Iguodala mentioned that it has “something to do with that Heat culture.”

Jimmy Butler told media as well that it looks as if Kendrick will be back into the rotation, which he added “I sure hope so.” Kendrick played well with Jimmy Butler on the floor throughout the season, especially since that starting unit was so effective.

And what stands out most with Kendrick Nunn after that game one performance is that it seems as if his confidence is back. He’s a player that relies solely on his self-confidence, and when the shots aren’t falling, he never seems to be able to bounce back. That’s a little different from his fellow rookie teammate who never lacks an ounce of confidence with his shooting. But now that he’s rolling, this team may have the piece that they’ve been searching for.

Kendrick isn’t the only guy that will be looked to step up in game two. Kelly Olynyk will definitely get a bump in minutes, and most likely will be starting. This may be good for a couple of reasons. It stretches the floor on offense, and will take guys like Dwight Howard out of the paint. This may ultimately play him off the floor, since he struggles with perimeter defense.

But he can take advantage of this match-up as well. He will be able to have a field day on the glass and pretty much own the paint.

But that might call for yet another player to step up, and that guy could be Meyers Leonard.

If Miami begins to have issues with the Lakers bigs again, they will most likely use this card. Not because Meyers will be able to out rebound them, but he’s someone who can bang around down low and be a disruption.

And he’s also very capable of being a knock down shooter. He’s had some tough stretches in a few games where he got put in for a short stint, but what else do you expect from a guy that’s not getting any playing time. He’s a player that Miami could possibly look at to be a spark, and if there was any game to use it, it will be this one.

Once again, the depth of this team is clearly their strength, not even mentioning a possible role for Derrick Jones Jr and increased minutes for Solomon Hill.

“It’s always that next man up mentality,” Kendrick Nunn when discussing this team.

Although it is next man up, more importantly it’s all men up, since everybody will have their chance in game two.

 

Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) is a contributor to Five on the Floor platforms on Five Reasons Sports.

Jimmy Butler All-NBA Third Team, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro All-Rookie Team

Jimmy Butler was named to the All-NBA third team on Wednesday afternoon, while Bam Adebayo did not make it.

Some may raise an eyebrow at Paschal Siakam on the All-NBA second team, but this is a regular season award. He led Toronto to the two seed in the Eastern Conference, which is why Jimmy Butler does not care about these awards. Jimmy is so locked in on the post-season and winning, that he’s more focused on the Larry O’Brien trophy. He would’ve liked Bam Adebayo to probably take his spot on the third team, but ultimately Bam isn’t fazed by that award either.

Especially right now, with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on an incredible playoff run, they are not taking any time to reflect back on their regular season play. But either way, it’s a great honor to be atop of the league’s best players.

Jimmy Butler has earned this spot with not only his on-court play, but more importantly his leadership. He took the reigns of this Miami Heat team, and received much doubt for “coming to Miami to retire.” And now here he is, in the Eastern Conference Finals, on an All-NBA third team, with the much doubted Miami Heat team. That’s a winner and a leader.

And now to the All-Rookie team results. Kendrick Nunn was named to the All-Rookie first team, while Tyler Herro was named to the All-Rookie Second team.

Tyler Herro talked about his spot with media today, saying “I felt I could have been on the first team.” And that’s just the pure competitor in Tyler Herro. He did miss some time towards the end of the season, and ultimately he’s on to much bigger and better things.

But Kendrick Nunn, on the other hand, deserves this more than anyone. He hasn’t had a traditional route, going from un-drafted all the way to a starter on the Miami Heat. And although many are currently focusing on his postseason struggles, he had an outstanding regular season, which got Miami to their current position. For him to be third in voting behind the number one and number two is truly something to be proud of, since he’s earned it.

This Miami Heat team has been full of guys that are possible award winners, but ultimately, as mentioned before, they’re focused on a championship. Bam doesn’t need a Most Improved Player award to prove himself, since a championship ring will cap off his season just right.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Dragic, Nunn

The Miami Heat talked with some media after practice again today, after their huge game one win over Milwaukee.  Goran Dragic talked about his relationship with his teammates, while Kendrick Nunn discussed his adjustment to his new role. Here’s what was said…

Post Practice Comment #1:

After Kendrick Nunn seems to have locked up the ninth man in the rotation, Erik Spoelstra touched on his importance. He said, “He’s been one of our most important players all season long.” He was pretty solid yesterday in game one scoring 6 points, but was a plus-8 in the game. And as talked about many times, if he can knock down some jumpers in this series, that may be the difference maker. Tyler Herro was the only player on the team for a stretch that utilized the mid-range, which is something Kendrick has done well all season. Goran praised Kendrick for adjusting to his new role, saying “We tell him, stay with it, we’re going to need you in the series.” Spo also mentioned how happy he is for Kendrick, saying “These are not easy circumstances…Covid is real.”

Post-Practice Comment #2:

When Goran Dragic was asked about yesterday’s game, he began with “We didn’t do anything yet.” He knows that although both him and Jimmy are playing at an elite level, the rest of their team hasn’t even gotten started. Goran mentioned that “This is the best basketball I’ve played in the playoffs.” He said he was a bit worried with the week layoff after the first round sweep, saying “I didn’t want to lose that consistency and everything.” Well, that hasn’t proved to be an issue after Goran put up 27 in game one. Not even that is enough for Goran and this Heat team, since he said they haven’t done anything yet.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

It’s clear that Goran Dragic is having the time of his life playing basketball this season. He reiterated that point after practice, saying “I’m just enjoying myself…I love my teammates. For me, it feels like I’m back with the national team.” This starts with his relationship with Jimmy Butler, who continue to improve their on-court play the longer they play together. And it’s a good thing Goran likes his teammates, since that’s all he has around him for this long stretch of time. Goran mentioned that both him and Jimmy will not have their families come to the bubble, since “It’s a business trip.” He followed that with “The focus is to win a championship,” and if they sustain their current play, there’s a possibility it could happen.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Kendrick Nunn talked about trying to adapt to his new role off of the bench. He started off saying that Spo told him heading into the series that he would be in the rotation, since he was a key contributor in the regular season wins against Milwaukee. Kendrick also touched on the difference between his starting role and rotational role. He said, “It’s a little bit different. Everything is more limited. You’ve got to pick and choose when to be aggressive.” Another part of the adjustment is that he’s playing with the bench unit, which he didn’t play much with all season. But as long as he gets back to his regular season self, which was a pure scorer, he will fit in with anybody. And like he said, “I’ve been able to get my rhythm back.”

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Kendrick Nunn spoke about the lineup that included him, Goran Dragic, and Tyler Herro that was used in game one. He said, “It gives us an advantage because obviously our speed kills. I love playing with two guards.” This lineup also benefits Kendrick since he doesn’t have to be the primary ball handler. He also seems to have a bit of a connection with Tyler Herro, since they played for a bit in summer league and throughout the regular season. Goran also discussed the three guard lineup, saying “All three of us can shoot the ball. It’s not tough because nobody is selfish on this team.” And obviously shooting will be needed as much as possible in this Bucks series, due to their defensive drop scheme.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Series Ending Win Over Pacers

The Miami Heat have officially completed the sweep over the Indiana Pacers with a game 4 win, 99-87. This was a pretty spread out game for Miami’s offense, while Miami’s leading scorer was Goran Dragic with 23 points. Here are some takeaways from this game 4 win…

#1: Kendrick Nunn makes impressive return.

Kenrick Nunn got his name called in the second quarter of today’s game, and he delivered. He hit a corner three on only his second offensive possession, which he showed both a smile and a bit of relief after his recent struggles. Jimmy Butler’s early injury lead to some early minutes for Nunn. This is extremely important heading into a match-up with the Milwaukee Bucks, since Miami will need some offensive talent on the floor like Kendrick Nunn, due to Milwaukee’s defense that allows more threes. This also takes a bit of the load off of Goran’s shoulders at times, since it’s not ideal for a 34 year old Goran to play 34 minutes a game.

#2: Jimmy Butler’s early departure leads to choppy offense in first half.

Jimmy Butler exited the game after 5 minutes of play with an apparent shoulder sprain. This injury did not seem to occur in the game, since he was seen rubbing his right shoulder prior to today’s game. Jimmy’s early departure led to a stagnant Miami offense in the first half. Although Jimmy is not a threat shooting the ball, his presence causes Miami’s offense to run smoothly. Jimmy returned in the second half, and Miami seemed to return to its usual dynamic offense. One thing that this showcased was Jimmy’s elite facilitating ability, plus his ability to attack the basket which is a given.

#3: Bam Adebayo hunting to dominate Myles Turner match-up early.

Bam Adebayo seemed to have some fire in his eyes on the offensive side of the ball early in today’s game. Almost as if he planned to be aggressive and attack Myles Turner. This led to a Bam Adebayo mid-range jumper and a couple floaters in the paint, which none of those shots even hit the rim. Just net. Jimmy Butler’s early departure may have impacted his aggressiveness early as well, since he realized he would need to step up. This was just another snippet of Bam’s game that has yet to be unlocked yet. Everyone can see it’s there, but he does everything else so well that he doesn’t always utilize it. Bam ended the game with 14 points, 19 rebounds, and 6 assists.

#4: Tyler Herro continually shows he can be “that guy.”

Tyler Herro has continually proven that he is immune to pressure. He’s shown this throughout the entire series, but today he showed that he’s going to play the same way no matter if it’s practice, a regular season game, and now a playoff game. And as talked about before, although he has improved his ball-handling and play-making, he will always primarily be a scorer. He has the ability to not only hurt you from three, but also control the mid-range which is something that Miami hasn’t done a lot of. He showed off yet another big fourth quarter tonight, with some impressive drives to the basket and tough passes down the stretch. When you watch him in these games, it truly slips your mind that this guy is a rookie.

#5: Miami’s 4-0 sweep against Indiana is a warning to the top East teams.

The Miami Heat completed the sweep against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, which means they move on to the second round to likely face the Milwaukee Bucks. This first round showcased Miami’s number one strength, which is their unique mix of solid veterans and young talent. Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro were clear representaions of this, since they both stepped up in this series on the offensive side of the ball, especially during tough stretches. Erik Spoelstra also deserves major credit in this series for his ability to adjust so perfectly in this unique situation. And don’t forget about their elite two-way stars on the roster in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who have both been huge in fourth quarters, which is when they are needed most. Teams are recognizing the toughness in this current Miami Heat team, which makes them such a threat.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Iguodala, Nunn

The Miami Heat went through their last practice before game 1 of the playoffs on Monday afternoon. This media session included the playoff role for Heat’s rookie Kendrick Nunn. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Kendrick Nunn was asked about the different mindset of coming off of the bench or starting. He basically said that it doesn’t matter to him since he just will go out on the floor and play no matter what. This then lead to the question of if he’d heard if he would be starting tomorrow. He then confirmed that he will be coming off of the bench. This consequently means that Goran Dragic will be the starting point guard tomorrow, since Erik Spoelstra usually rolls with guys that he trusts.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Andre Iguodala talked a little about the importance of the veterans on this roster with the young guys, including Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic, and himself. He said that they know how to deal with these guys when their going through tough stretches. But, you have to truly know your teammates since you have to deal with them all differently. He mentioned that he doesn’t deal with Bam Adebayo the same way he does Duncan Robinson. This leads right into a previous answer he said which was that his most important stretches come in between time-outs. His off-court leadership will become essential starting tomorrow.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Erik Spoelstra began the media session discussing the current status of Derrick Jones Jr. He mentions that he went through the walk through portion of practice today and that he’s not totally ruled out yet. But, it does seem like we’re going in that direction, since there is no reason to rush him back into a game that quickly. This may consequently mean that he will be back by game 2 or 3, and hopefully be a pivotal part in the second unit’s offensive and defensive success.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Erik Spoelstra was asked about the new defensive scheme that Indiana is using, which is to chase people totally off of the threes. This changed because they lost their all-star big man Domantas Sabonis, which lead to them going smaller and faster. Spoelstra said the most important thing is taking care of the ball and limiting mistakes, since they want to get out and run off of turnovers. He also mentioned that Indiana is top 3 in steals and points off turnovers in the bubble, which is why he will be stressing the idea of limiting mistakes. This may be another reason why Gorn Dragic will be entering the starting lineup for Kendrick Nunn, he wants his veterans in control of the ball.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Andre Iguodala got asked about the idea of Jimmy Butler’s new coffee shop in the bubble. Andre says that most people give out samples when they first start out with a business. But not Jimmy. He’s charging $20 a cup for small, medium, and large. Jimmy also said that he may raise the price to $30 for the playoffs. Andre ends the discussion with, “He’s trying to build a monopoly.”