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Miami Heat 2020-21 player review: Kendrick Nunn

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After a difficult time in the NBA bubble, Nunn reemerged to retake the starting PG position.

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Miami Heat Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason has arrived for the Miami Heat, who were swept out of the first round in the NBA playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks — losing their four games by a combined 82 points.

Before we deep dive into everything regarding the future months for this team, let’s discuss the seasons for Heat players who played and finished on the 2020-21 Heat roster.

For our 11th player review — conducted in alphabetical order — we will look at point guard Kendrick Nunn. Here’s the previous 10 Heat players we’ve reviewed thus far:

Let’s dive into it!

Brief Overview:

2020-21 stats (56 games):

  • 14.2 PPG
  • 3.2 RPG
  • 2.6 APG
  • 48.5 field goal percentage
  • 59.6 true shooting percentage
  • 14.2 true shooting percentage

After a breakout preseason, Nunn shot out of a cannon and started all 67 regular season games — finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. But due to contracting COVID-19 paired with inconsistent play, he soon fell out of the starting lineup and, ultimately, the rotation until injuries plagued Miami in the NBA Finals.

Nunn got off to a slow start to begin this season, but a myriad of injuries and COVID-19 absences opened more opportunity for the 6-foot-2 guard. His end-of-season numbers were lower than they were in his All-Rookie season, but Nunn’s confidence and feel for the game grew with the workload throughout the season.

Numbers to note:

21.5 - Miami was a much better team in transition when Nunn was on the floor. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Heat registered 138.1 points per 100 transition plays with Nunn on the court, good enough for the 92nd percentile; when he wasn’t, that number plummeted to 116.6 points — placing in the 17th percentile. That’s a plus 21.5 differential — tied with New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton and his second-team All-NBA teammate Julius Randle for the best mark in the Association (minimum 1000 minutes played).

42.1 - Though a majority of his 3-point shots came off-the-dribble, Nunn was much more proficient on catch-and-shoot attempts this season. He netted 42.1 percent of his 233 catch-and-shoot tries from beyond the arc — a considerable improvement from his 34.2 percent mark (262 attempts) last season. It was apparent that he wasn’t as hesitant and exuded more confidence with his 3-point shot — leading to much better results.

Best game?

April 19 vs. Houston Rockets

Nunn tallied 30 points — his first of two 30-point performances this year — on 12-of-20 shooting with a season-high six 3-pointers, adding seven rebounds and eight assists.

What’s next?

Nunn enters restricted free agency this year, meaning Miami could match any offer he receives from another organization. At what cost, thought? The Athletic’s John Hollinger reported that Nunn “could get offers” in the $15M per year range. Hollinger notes that teammate Duncan Robinson — also a restricted free agent — could potentially receive more. With those reported price tags, the front office should kiss its chances of retaining both players goodbye.

Pat Riley will likely have to choose between the two. If he elects to part with either one, both could be highly-coveted assets in potential sign-and-trades due to their sub-$5M cap holds. If Miami’s conducting said sign-and-trade, it will be hard-capped (for the third straight year) — meaning it must stay under the ~$143M tax apron for all of 2021-22.

On the court, Nunn increased his field goal percentage by 4.6 percentage points, his 3-point percentage by 3.1 points and his free-throw percentage by 8.3 points; in total, his true shooting percentage spiked up from 53.2 percent to an adept 59.6 percent. It will be hard to replicate those stark increases, but if Nunn continues to develop his on-court comfort, he’ll sustain the trajectory of prospering into a potent three-level scorer.

It’s too early to determine whether Nunn will develop into a “true point guard” or not, but he made strides as a playmaker — though it didn’t necessarily reflect in the assist category. Nunn also showed capability in his off-ball defense (in the regular season) — the department that possesses the most room for growth.