Kendrick Nunn was available to everyone.
But nobody wanted him, or no one truly gave him a chance. Signed, on the last day of the regular season by the Miami Heat after spending the year in the G-League from going undrafted, the Heat cashed in.
Pat Riley took his chance as he often does, signing a young diamond in the rough to a make-good contract.
And when he did, no one really blinked an eye. It wasn’t unusual for something like that to happen. But once the summer league rolled around, and Nunn was playing great basketball, there was a head-scratching thought that maybe this guy is pretty good.
I remember watching it. A regular summer league game out in Las Vegas. The Miami Heat were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nunn was having a game. And with time winding down in the game, the Heat were down two and Nunn just pick-pockets his opponent for a late game steal and slam.
That’s when I knew. That’s when I knew he was something a little different. But I never imagined he would start the season as the starting point guard over Goran Dragic or Dion Waiters and never relinquish the role.
The 24 year-old rookie has had a great season. He’s averaged 15.6 PPG and 3.4 APG. Yeah, he shoots a lot, but he digs in defensively and he had been consistent in things the Heat need — a mid range scorer, a capable floor spacer and a point guard who doesn’t have to have the ball all the time.
But what makes this thing so intriguing is Nunn’s contract situation. He’s due $1.6 million next season that is guaranteed on opening night. And then for 2021-22, he’s got a $2.1 million qualifying offer.
That’s a cheap deal for someone who is averaging 15.6 PPG as a rookie. The Heat, who have a few contracts that are making them successful, can use this to their advantage and surround the team with talent.
If Kendrick Nunn improves, we could be looking at a team in two years who has surpassed all expectations.
But he will have competition. Duncan Robinson and Derrick Jones Jr. are both in the same boat — and the rookie contracts of Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo are making the Heat heavy in young talent who are supporting the top.
What’s Nunn’s ceiling? I don’t know.
But I can’t wait to find out.