Sunday's NBA: Ex-Oakland star Kendrick Nunn making bid for spot in Heat rotation

Detroit News wire services
Kendrick Nunn

Miami — Erik Spoelstra didn’t need a 40-point performance from Kendrick Nunn to validate his view of the 24-year-old guard. But the Heat coach got one anyway.

“That game didn’t move the needle any more or less for me,” Spoelstra said following Sunday’s practice, referring to Nunn’s 40-point outing in Friday’s preseason finale against the Rockets. “We’ve been in the gym with him since early summer. I’ve seen his body of work. Summer league, in my mind, he was All-Summer League. But he could have been easily the MVP of summer league. He played at a high level. In camp, he showed really good moments.”

Then Spoelstra paused before making it clear Nunn is in the running for a spot in the Heat’s rotation this season, which puts him in the mix with Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro as guards vying for minutes.

“He offers something that we need,” Spoelstra said. “I’ll have to figure out exactly where that will be. But he certainly is somebody that’s going to earn minutes somehow.”

Nunn averaged 13.8 points while shooting 51.9% from the field and 47.8% on threes and 3.6 assists in five preseason games. His 40-point night on 15-of-27 shooting Friday helped lift those numbers.

The most encouraging aspect of Nunn’s preseason, though, could be his assist-to-turnover numbers. Known as a prolific scorer from his college days, Nunn has worked to refine his point guard skills and recorded 18 assists to only five turnovers this preseason.

“I came a long way and I’m still developing,” said Nunn, who went undrafted out of Oakland University in 2018. “Just getting outside of my comfort zone, using my voice more and being more vocal. Getting guys where they need to be in spots, kind of running the team. I think I’m doing a good job of it, but I’m still developing.”

Nunn signed with the Heat on the final day of the 2018-19 regular season after spending his first professional season in the G League. He averaged 19.3 points in 49 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season.

“They were sleeping a little bit,” Nunn said of proving those wrong who didn’t give him much of an NBA chance. “They’re probably still sleeping. But I’m going to keep waking them up every time I play.

“I think I deserved to get drafted and stuff like that, but it went the other way. Then last season, not making the roster. I knew I was good enough to play, but it didn’t happen. But I’m glad I got the opportunity here.”

Slam dunks

The Lakers ruled out Kyle Kuzma (Flint) for Tuesday’s season-opening game against the Clippers as he recovers from a stress reaction in his left foot.

Kuzma sustained the injury during the summer while he was with Team USA in Australia. He was cleared to do noncontact practices after the Lakers returned from China last week. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he wants to see Kuzma do some more work before playing.

... Marcus Morris, a former Piston, is not exactly Mr. Popular among the Spurs faithful, after backing out of an agreement to sign with the team last summer. He said that he expects to be booed by fans on Wednesday when the Knicks play at the AT&T Center.

Morris had given San Antonio a verbal commitment in free agency for two years at $20 million. However, he had second thoughts and ended up signing with the Knicks for one season at $15 million.