Second-year guard Kendrick Nunn will be the one tasked with picking up the slack until Oladipo returns (if the two-time All-Star comes back). Nunn didn’t play at all the other night against the Los Angeles Lakers as those extra minutes went to Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro. However, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the plan moving forward was for Nunn to “stay ready.” Oladipo is out indefinitely with a knee injury and won’t make Miami’s four-game road trip.
“We talked and put together a plan for him to stay ready,” Spoelstra told reporters, via Inside the Heat. “He does keep himself ready. He does have the mental toughness to be ready for the next opportunity. Unpredictable things happen, and he’s a great worker.”
Nunn is no slouch. He was the runner-up in Rooke-of-the-Year voting last year to Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. The 25-year-old averaged 15.3 points in 29.3 minutes per game in 2020. Nunn has been in and out of the rotation this year, but he’s still put up impressive numbers: 13.5 points, 2.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds while shooting 37.2% from deep.
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Nunn Posts Second Vaccination Photo
Nunn has also been doing his part to help ensure “herd immunity” for the country. The Chicago native posted an Instagram photo of his Pfizer vaccination card with the caption: “Fully vaccinated Corona can kiss my a**.” Some players have been tight-lipped about their vaccination plans but Nunn was proud to let everyone know he did his part.
It’s unclear how many Heat players have gotten their second shots. The team returns to action on Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers at 10 p.m.
Jimmy Butler Laments Oladipo Loss
Count Jimmy Butler among those Heat players taking Oladipo’s loss hard. The star forward told reporters that Miami needs that guy for the playoffs, test run or not. Oladipo has averaged 12.0 points and 3.5 assists in four games in South Beach.
“We definitely need that guy. We want him back,” Butler told reporters on Thursday, via ESPN. “Playing the way he played today, making shots, getting to the cup, getting to the line, and getting everyone else involved. We all want that guy to be OK.”
Oladipo hasn’t been the same since injuring his right knee in 2019, a ruptured Achilles tendon in Indiana. He has appeared in only 52 regular-season games following the injury. The Heat might have a big decision to make in the offseason on whether to lock Oladipo up to a long-term deal or let him walk and pursue a “giant whale” in free agency. It’s kind of a wait-and-see approach right now for one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.