Kendrick Nunn finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2019. He had 204 total points to Ja Morant’s 498, with no first-place votes. According to the Miami Heat guard, he should have won the coveted award, and now he plans to prove all his doubters wrong.
Nunn, who beat out Zion Williamson for second, revealed that “of course” he should have beaten out Morant for Rookie of the Year. But his long-term goals are higher than that as he seeks to join basketball immortality in Springfield one day.
“I’m an All-Star player. I’m a Hall of Famer,” Nunn told Alex Kennedy, via Basketball News. “That’s my goal and I know that’s what I’m going to reach.”
Nunn has caught fire of late for the Heat. Head coach Erik Spoelstra had been using the second-year guard sparingly to start the year, but a rash of injuries — combined with COVID-19 health and safety protocol absences — have turned Nunn into a key contributor off the bench. He has averaged 23 points in 34.5 minutes per game over the last two contests. Spoelstra praised him for not causing a ruckus after he pulled him from the starting lineup.
“K-Nunn has an incredible competitive character,” Spoelstra told reporters. “He really does. He has a grit and a perseverance to him, that not only do you have confidence that he’ll be able to respond from this kind of adversity, but you respect him so much, that you’re like really rooting for him, and you really want it for him.”
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Nunn Explains Motivation, Targets NBA Finals Return
Back to that Rookie of the Year snub. Why did Nunn feel he deserved to win it? Well, he wanted to “shock the world” as an undrafted player beating out the No. 1 (Morant) and No. 2 picks (Williamson). No hard feelings, of course. Nunn was named Rookie of the Month three straight times in 2019-20.
Of course I should’ve won. It’s really rare for an undrafted player to perform like that and have the kind of season that I had. Obviously, it’s expected that a lottery pick — the No. 1 pick or No. 2 pick or No. 3 pick — will win that award. So, just from a ‘shocking-the-world’ thing, I feel like I should’ve won.
That’s all in the rear-view mirror for Nunn. The 25-year-old is gunning for a return to the NBA Finals this year to complete unfinished business for the Heat. They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games despite being down key players like Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. All-Star forward Jimmy Butler recently caused a stir when he told GQ Magazine, “we should have won.” Nunn seemed to agree.
“This season, my No. 1 goal is I want to run it back to the NBA Finals,” Nunn told Kennedy. “We gotta get that Finals win. That was kind of upsetting to me that we didn’t get that win, and we could have.”
Heat-Raptors Ready for Rematch in Tampa
Miami returns to action on Friday night (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Sun) against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa. The Heat took the first game in their two-game set on Wednesday night thanks to 28 points (in 35 minutes) from Nunn.
The Heat will be without Butler (health protocols) for the fifth straight game, as well as guard Avery Bradley (health protocols) and center Meyers Leonard (shoulder strain). Tyler Herro (neck) is questionable while guards Goran Dragic (foot) and Gabe Vincent (knee) are probable to play.