As we speak, most of the basketball world have their eyes focused on the latest news surrounding where 2x NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will play basketball in 2019-20 and beyond. Will he remain in Toronto and try to push the Raptors to back-to-back titles? Might he return to his hometown and play alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis in the purple and gold? Or could he decide to be with the Clippers and lead a group of young, exciting players ? Well, we’ll have to wait until receiving a notification from Woj or Shams to find out the next drastic change to the NBA.
With attention focused on Kawhi, it isn’t surprising that a lot of people are overlooking the fact that there’s Summer League basketball currently occurring in Sacramento and Salt Lake City. Although the events in these cities don’t have the same magnitude of the impending festivities in Las Vegas, there are a cavalcade of intriguing young player that could potentially be featured on NBA teams in future months.
One of the prospects that have impressed the most during this initial Summer League slate is current Heat guard Kendrick Nunn. During his two games in Sacramento, he averaged 24 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals on 42% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc on 7.5 attempts per game. While that’s obviously a small sample size, it might show a pattern that could put the Oakland alum closer to getting a permanent spot on an NBA roster.
That reasoning lies behind Nunn potentially showing himself to be an improved perimeter shooter from how he was during his rookie year with the Santa Cruz Warriors. In that season, he shot 33% from beyond the arc on 5.1 attempts per game. While the rookie had occasional good showings like this over the course of his run with Santa Cruz, he wasn’t able to shoot better than 33% from beyond the arc on consecutive games. While it can be argued that Nunn just came into Sacramento with a hot hand, the fact that he hasn’t showed that on at least two straight games seems to be a sign that he’s progressing as a shooter.
If Nunn shows that he’s improved as a perimeter shooter, his odds of starting the 2019-20 season on an NBA roster would significantly grow. Because alongside progressing as a three-point threat, Nunn stands as a fantastic offensive threat that can either drive to the rim or put up left-handed floaters, post-up or hit mid-range jumpers. In all of those avenues, the young guard was extremely efficient. Within the restricted area, he hit a jaw-dropping 67% of his shots, which is unseen from a 6’3 guard.
Although perimeter shots are seen as passe in 2019, Nunn was able to make it work as he made 51% of shots from between 16 feet to the NBA three-point line. That work might be the most entertaining part of his game as the young guard clearly shows a confidence when it comes to the craft of working within that range. From swifty working around screens and getting to his spot or nulling his opponent to sleep with slick handles before hitting a step-back jumper, the 23-year-old already seems to be the master of the mid-range.
Despite playing fantastic for the Heat during Summer League, there’s a good chance that he won’t be with the team when training camp starts in September. Due to Nunn receiving a $50,000 guarantee on July 1st, the team will have to waive Nunn before August 1st, where he’s set to receive $150,000, if they want to have him on a two-way deal. If the team does decide to waive Nunn, it would give any team an opportunity to sign him to a two-way or guaranteed deal. Considering his apparent perimeter progression combined with his fantastic play in the G League, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nunn was quickly signed by another team after hitting the waiver wire.
While his future in the upcoming 2019-20 season will remain in question, the 6’3 guard will remain with the Heat when they travel to Las Vegas later this week. During that time, it will be interesting to watch if Nunn can remain consistent from beyond the arc over the course of the 4-5 games he’s likely to play. Like previously mentioned, that will make him a much more intriguing player to teams across the NBA as he’d truly have a well-rounded offensive game.
That progression as a shooter combined with his uncertain basketball future allows Kendrick Nunn to be a player to keep an eye on over the next few months