Can Kendrick Nunn win the Rookie of the Year race?
Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn is making a strong case to challenge for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.
Nunn had another statement game in Wednesday’s victory against the San Antonio Spurs at AmericanAirlines Arena. He finished with a game-high 33 points on 13 of 18 shooting with three rebounds and four assists. Nunn, an undrafted rookie out of Oakland University, is averaging 15.8 points, ranking second among first-year players. He has started every game this season.
“Every time he shot it [against the Spurs] after about the third time it looked like it was going down,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s funny, [Heat shooting coach] Rob Fodor and a couple of the other coaches said it was about to happen. He’s been putting in some of these kind of shooting performances behind the scenes and in practice. He just stays with it and he doesn’t get caught up in all the highs and lows.”
The question now is can Nunn overtake some of the bigger names in the ROY race. With the midseason point approaching, Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is the favorite. He tops all rookies in scoring and was the No. 2 pick in the draft.
What Nunn has going is being a key contributor on a team in the middle of a playoff push. The Heat have been in the upper half of the Eastern Conference standings for the majority of the season, reaching high as No. 2. Nunn has already twice been named conference rookie of the month. No undrafted rookie has ever won the seasonal award.
Nunn has refused to get caught up in the hype, preferring to keep the same blue-collar approach that allowed him to earn this opportunity. He spent last year playing for the Golden State G League team before landing a spot with the Heat summer league team.
“Just getting my reps in, in practice, after practice, before practice or late night or whatever the case it is,” Nunn said. “When I’m missing some shots in the game, just get in the gym and get the kinks out.”