Impressive debut: Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn excels early in season

Kendrick Nunn Credit: Twitter/NBA

The Miami Heat lost iconic star Dwyane Wade to retirement at the end of last season, but a new star has emerged to help fill the void. Ladies and gentlemen, pay attention to Kendrick Nunn.

Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald examined Nunn’s excellent play to open the season in an Oct. 31 notebook. In short, it’s been downright scary for opposing defenses.

Here’s a key section of Chiang’s article, highlighting Nunn’s overall performance early in the season:

“Nunn’s 112 points to begin the season is the most through five games by an undrafted player in NBA history, surpassing Connie Hawkins’ 105 points to begin 1969-70. In addition, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Nunn is the first NBA player with 100 points in his first five career games since Kevin Durant in 2007-08 (113).”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gave his take on what’s led to Nunn’s breakout success.

“He’s just taking advantage of all the opportunities, and he’s playing within the concepts of team basketball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Nunn after an Oct. 31 game against the Hawks, according to the Miami Herald. “He was super efficient tonight.”

Through seven games, Nunn is averaging 18.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Golden State’s loss, Miami’s gain

Nunn attended the University of Illinois for three years, then transferred to Oakland University in 2016. He sat out a year due to the NCAA transfer rule. As a college senior, Nunn was No. 1 among NCAA Division I players in 3-point shots made per game (4.47 average). He averaged 25.9 points per game, second in the nation.

Last season, Nunn made a big impact for the NBA G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, contributing 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 49 games (one start).

Miami signed him in April, a move that’s paid big dividends so far.

In the Heat’s preseason finale, Nunn put 40 points on the board against the Rockets. And it was a sign of things to come once the regular season began.

Indeed, there’s definitely a buzz about Kendrick Nunn in South Beach and beyond.

Pat Riley, one of the all-time great coaches and team executives in NBA history, found a player who fits in perfectly with the Heat. And maybe, he’s the spark the team needs to make a deep run into the playoffs next spring.