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Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn, Ja Morant disagree on ROY

Who will win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award? That is the big question, and there are certainly several worthy candidates. Miami Heat point guard Kendrick Nunn believes he should bring home the honors to South Beach. Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant disagrees.

Nunn averaged 15.6 points per contest this season. Morant averaged 17.6 points per game on the year. Although points per contest is not the only metric in which to measure things by, it does illustrate how explosive these two were offensively.

Nunn also was experiencing a swing post All-Star Break. He was averaging 17.1 points per contest in 11 games.

.Morant absolutely exploded onto the scene for Memphis. He started off his career strong, averaging 17.5 points in the month of October. His best month was in November when he averaged 19 points in 13 games played. He too was on a bit of an uptick following the All-Star Break. He was averaging 17.7 points over the course of 11 games.

Nunn was a sparkplug for Miami Heat

There is little doubt that Nunn brought electricity as soon as he took the floor. One of his best games of the season came on February 9 against Washington. He scored a season-high 27 points on nine-of-17 shooting. Totaling 35 minutes of work, he recorded 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his first triple-double of his career.

I tend to agree with Nunn here. He has had major contributions on a playoff team. Morant and the Grizzlies will get there, just not right now.

Either way, this debate lends credence to the fact that there were so many talented rookies in the NBA this year. The fact that Miami had two of them is a credit to Pat Riley and Erik Spolstra. Kudos to Riley for taking chances on both of them and a tip of the cap to Spolstera for putting the rookies in positions to succeed.

Miami Heat: Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn selected for Rising Stars Game

Two more members of the Miami Heat are set to take part in All-Star weekend. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn will be participating in the NBA Rising Stars Game.

Both Herro and Nunn will be on the USA team. Herro is averaging 13.1 points per game to go along with two assists and 4.2 rebounds. Nunn has recorded 16.2 points per game, 3.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds.

Both players have been a huge part of the young foundation the Miami Heat are trying to build. Together they have shown promise as the season has progressed, and it will be imperative that they build off their progress in the second half.

For the Miami Heat, this will be a star-studded affair. The addition of Herro and Nunn now makes it four representatives for the Miami Heat in Chicago. This will give people a chance to see exactly what has made the Miami Heat so effective during the first half of the season.

Nunn was extremely excited about being selected to the game, posting his feelings on Instagram.

Miami Heat have been here before.

This is the first time a Heat player has been selected to this game since Norris Cole in 2012. Cole recorded 18 points on seven-of-15 shooting in the event and 4-11 from beyond the arc. He also made plays for others, recording six assists and four steals.

Both Nunn and Herro will be heavily relied upon in the second half of the season as the Heat look to make a playoff run. Given the track record of most first-year players, it will be interesting to see if they hit the “rookie wall.” Alternatively, both are talented enough for sustained production the rest of the way. The Heat are going to need them to continue to play at a high level.

Attrition may Have Uncovered Potent Lineup for Heat

A potent lineup for the Heat may have revealed itself.

The Miami Heat have somehow managed to maintain course despite crucial injuries to Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic.

 

Miami has started to show some vulnerability, as evidenced by their first truly bad loss of the year at Memphis.

Jimmy Butler needs a break.

However the team once again found enough gas Wednesday to end Philadelphia’s undefeated run at home.  The common denominators for most Heat lineups lately have been Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kendrick Nunn.  That trio has been in the top three lineups for Miami in terms of minutes per game, with Duncan Robinson and Meyers Leonard rounding things out.

Switching to Airplane Mode

One intriguing combination has been to bring in Derrick Jones Jr. for Meyers Leonard early and late.  Leonard typically opens each half but has not been utilized much, if at all down the stretch.  Jones, Jr. has been seeing a huge increase in minutes recently due to several factors, including the razor thin rotation Erik Spoelstra has to work with.  That faith has been rewarded as Jones continues to carve out a more significant role.  Over the last seven games, DJJ is averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is starting to feel it from downtown.  He is 6-for-13 in his last four games and has scored in double figures three times in that span, while his defense has also made a huge impact.

 

The lineup featuring Butler/Jones, Jr./Adebayo/Robinson/Nunn has been used in just three games going into Wednesday.  Yet in that limited sample the numbers have been encouraging and perhaps worth a look.  Rebounding is a legitimate concern without a second traditional big however, time will tell how the scales balance in that aspect.

 

Butler has been all that Heat fans could have hoped for but is exerting a ton out there. He struggled in his latest return to Philadelphia and is logging a Thibodeau-ian amount of minutes lately.  Butler is playing almost 39 minutes per contest in December which is nearly six minutes more than his career average. His 26.3 usage rate this season would be the second highest total of his career if maintained.

While DJJ has been a key cog in the wheel, the emergence of Adebayo is what has held things together.  The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week has continued to carry the load on both ends.  Adebayo is the anchor, not only on defense but from the high post where his skill set shines.  Bam is averaging 18/11/5  in December and his ability to finish on the pick-and-roll, or run things from the top, has kept defenses off balance.

Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have been inconsistent but when they are on, they give this group the scoring from the perimeter it needs.  Nunn erupted for 26 points at Philadelphia and has hit half his three-point attempts on this road trip. If he can start making the easy plays and distribute the ball, expect another nice progression from the rookie.  Meanwhile, Robinson has been feast-or-famine, but when he’s eating the whole offense changes.  He has become a comfortable second option on the perimeter when the initial action doesn’t hit, while doing just enough on defense.  Robinson is shooting over 47% from deep this month and is getting almost six minutes more per game.

The lineup is shooting 59.6% overall and 52% from deep, while averaging a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.  On the opposite end they are holding opponents to just 40% shooting, including 26.5% from beyond the arc.  Conversely, they are 6.5 points better overall than the opponent so far.  Perhaps that is why they were the “Five on the Floor” to close the game out in Philadelphia.

When Dragic (and Winslow?) return, it will likely shake up the backcourt rotation once again.

For now, we may be seeing this group again when it counts.

Miami Heat Defeat Wizards Behind Butler Triple Double

The Miami HEAT came into Friday night’s matchup with the Washington Wizards off of a 2-1 road trip highlighted by an OT win against the Toronto Raptors.  After another road back to back loss against one of the league’s top teams, a home tilt against the sub .500 Wizards felt like a welcome respite.

Before the game Wizards coach Scott Brooks had high praise for Bam Adebayo and the Heat coaching staff saying, “(Bam) is a bonafide star big in this league.” As a thank you for the kind words, Adebayo scored a quick 10 pts in the first quarter, including a couple of butter smooth jumpers that other teams have been daring him to take.

Adebayo got some help in the 2nd quarter as Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro came to life. Despite their efforts, the Heat trailed going into the half for only the second time this season due to an uncharacteristically poor defensive effort.  The Heat struggled to contain Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans in particular, with Bertans going 4 for 7 from beyond the arc in the 2nd quarter. Kendrick Nunn continued his recent struggles with only 3 points in the first half and a couple of sloppy sequences.

The 2nd half defense was far better than the first as the Wizards – one of the most potent offenses in the league – only managed to score 38 points.  Offensively, the trio of Butler, Adebayo and Herro continued their scoring barrage but the Heat struggled to increase or even maintain a lead going into the 4th.

So with a tight game and the clock winding down, the Heat turned to their closer.  Butler was brought to Miami for a myriad of reasons, but foremost amongst them was to give Coach Erik Spoelstra the kind of closer the team hasn’t seen since Dwyane Wade left for the Chicago Bulls.

With just over a minute left and the Heat leading 108-103, Butler had seen enough. He calmly stepped into a 25 ft 3 point shot that iced the game and gave the Heat a win. In typical Butler fashion, he stomped his way to the Heat bench after the Wizards called timeout and shared some “colorful” words with his teammates.  The kind of aggressive action that may have rubbed some of his past franchises the wrong way, is embraced in Miami, if not encouraged.

Miami went on to win by a score of 112-103 as Butler finished with a triple double (28-11-11) to remain undefeated at home. Adebayo chipped in a double double (24 pts and 14 rebs), while Herro added 22 pts of his own.

But the night belonged to Butler who shared some words with this former coach Tom Thibodeau on his way off the floor.  Thibs was all smiles as he watched his former superstar close out an opponent in familiar fashion. Seemingly happy for Jimmy, as he has finally found an NBA home.

 

Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of Month

A Miami Heat rookie received an accolade on Tuesday. Kendrick Nunn was named to the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November.

Nunn is the first Miami Heat player to win the award since Josh Richardson in 2016.

He averaged 14.1 points per game in addition to 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest. He had four 20-point games in the month of November. His best game came against Cleveland on the 14th. In that contest, he played 37 minutes , going 10-of-16 from the field. Scoring 23 points, he also recorded five rebounds and eight assists. His efficiency from the field has also been impressive. Prior to Tuesday’s game, he is shooting 46.4% from the field and 36.2 % from behind the three-point line.

In his last game against Brooklyn, he started the month of December off right. In what was a balanced team effort, he scored 11 points and chipped assists in 25 minutes play. He has been a strong source of secondary scoring. With Jimmy Butler averaging 18.8 points on the year, Nunn is second on the team in ppg.

Nunn is a great story to boot. Having gone undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, he was in the G-League just last year. Now he is making valuable contributions for the Miami Heat. Miami begins a tough two-game stretch on Tuesday night. They face the Toronto Raptors, and then the Boston Celtics and what should be great tests for the team. Tipoff for Tuesday’s game is 7:30 PM.

Full boat for Miami Heat: Blessing or problem?

The untold national story of the Miami Heat’s 13-5 start is how much they’ve done with less.

When training camp started, it was assumed by many that Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Dion Waiters and even Derrick Jones Jr. would be integral parts of the rotation. After all, those are two of the team’s highest paid players, the projected starting point guard and a prospect the Heat have compared to first round value.

But Winslow missed three weeks with a concussion. Johnson wasn’t in Heat shape to start camp and has fallen out of favor. Jones has had an assortment of maladies. And Waiters? Well, you know.

Now, though, all are back.

That gives the Heat 15 available players as they face the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday at the start of a compelling 3-game Eastern road swing.

So how will this shake out?

Start with the starting lineup. Since Winslow returned, Erik Spoelstra has inserted sixth man Goran Dragic in his place anyway. But the Heat are committed to Dragic as bench stalwart. So you’d guess Winslow gets back in the lineup, now that his minutes are up, to start to build offensive chemistry with Jimmy Butler — arguably the most important objective for this team in the short term.

But who is the guard between them? Still Kendrick Nunn? Duncan Robinson, who played so well as part of the five-man opening group with Winslow out? Or is this the time to insert Tyler Herro, the Bucket Brother who has undeniable chemistry with Butler?

That, of course, will affect the bench. Assuming Dragic goes back there, does he pair better with Herro or Nunn? And what about the frontcourt? Kelly Olynyk has found his game of late. Does he replace Meyers Leonard in the starting lineup? What becomes of two-way surprise Chris Silva? In some games, the Heat have needed his energy. They’re not worried about his service time clock. Send him to the G-League for a week as Jones and Johnson get some run? Or stay with what’s working?

You’d always rather have more talent than less.

But some of Spoelstra’s decisions have been made for him so far, by circumstance.

Now, as even he has said, the decisions will get more difficult.

His motto: Force me to watch you, force me to play you, force me to make a tough choice.

Breaking it Down: Nekias Duncan on Heat-Hawks II

How is this happening?

How are the Miami Heat off to a 4-1 start with Jimmy Butler missing three games and playing passively on offense for most of the other two?

How are Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro doing this…. as rookies?

How is someone on a two-way contract, such as Chris Silva, contributing so much?

After the Heat’s latest win, this one 106-97 against the Hawks in Atlanta, Nekias Duncan (@NekiasNBA) does what he does: a comprehensive video breakdown on Twitter.

Duncan contributes to Five Reasons Sports Network from time to time, so look for more of his work here.

Still, this thread is worth your time, just like this Heat team:

 

 

 

Miami Heat have a stud on the rise in Kendrick Nunn

The Miami Heat have certainly benefited from his contributions.

Although the Miami Heat lost by a 112-106 score on Sunday evening, there were many positives to take away from the game. One of them was the continued production from rookie shooting guard Kendrick Nunn.

For the third game in a row, Nunn played well. In 40 minutes of action, he shot nine-of-17 from the field. He managed to go five-of-nine from beyond the arc and made both his free throws. In addition to his shooting success, he also recorded four rebounds and two assists. In total, he scored 25 points on the evening. With both his field-goal percentage and three-point percentage above 50%, it’s safe to say that he was efficient.

It was good to see him play well on Sunday, especially coming off back-to-back games. He had a solid game on Saturday as well, but the efficiency wasn’t there. In particular, he was cold from behind the arc against Milwaukee. He finished two-of-eight in that department. Nevertheless, his overall body of work was impressive. He finished with 18 points on the evening.

It’s good to see Nunn provide this sort of spark for Miami. You can definitely tell the potential is there. As a matter of fact, the potential is not only there, it is a tangible thing. In his last preseason game against Houston, he scored 40 points in 40 minutes of play and shot 55.6% from the field.  In what is a very talented and crowded Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat are going to need as many scoring options as possible. Nunn certainly provides that, and it is an unexpected surprise.

For me, the sample size is still a bit too small to fully judge what he is capable of. However, there is no denying that he has provided a spark for the Miami Heat. I’d expect that to continue as the season goes on. He certainly has the talent and capability to be successful. It will be interesting to see how he does over the next couple of games. He has a skill set that is sustainable, and that will definitely work in his favor moving forward. He is a good basketball player, and success definitely has a chance to be a part of his future.

Get Used to Kendrick Nunn

You’ll have to get used to Kendrick Nunn.

Maybe we’ve been hyping the wrong rookie.

Well, not entirely. Tyler Herro is 19. He will have much better nights than he did in Wednesday’s season opening 120-101 win for the Miami Heat against the Memphis Grizzlies, when he was often squeezed off his spots and tried to do much creating to compensate.

But it was his summer league backcourt mate, the one who has appeared polished in every game he’s played for Miami — Las Vegas to preseason to now the regular season — who shined the most.

Kendrick Nunn is 24 already. And the guard — snatched from Golden State on the last day of last season — matched his age with his scoring in his Miami Heat debut, a debut that came as a surprise starter. Not a substitute starter. That was Herro, in for Jimmy Butler, who missed the game with a personal issue (nothing to worry about). Nunn was supposed to start all along.

Think about that.

Nunn, who wasn’t drafted, who wasn’t valued enough by a thin Warriors team to be kept safe from poachers, who was an afterthought heading into the offseason, was given the starting job between Butler and Justise Winslow for the season opener at home. Ahead of Herro. Ahead of Dion Waiters, before Waiters’ complaining and IG stalking got him suspended.

Eric Reid, who has called 31 seasons of Heat basketball, tried to tell you on the Five on the Floor we posted just prior to the opener:

As Reid noted, this promotion wasn’t just about that 40-point game, mostly against Houston’s starters, in the Heat’s preseason finale. It was about the steady approach Nunn has shown for months now. His hesitation dribble is elite. He does not rush. He switches comfortably between both guard spots. He competes on defense. And he’s not afraid to pull up and launch when he sees some space.

The Heat have a long history of unearthing point guards. Anthony Carter, now on the staff, and Mike James had long NBA careers after no team really wanted either. But Nunn is a combo of the two. He shoots much better than Carter. And he’s more versatile and polished than James.

Also, the attitude.

Listen here: