Warriors

Warriors

If you've caught a glimpse of the Miami Heat early in the NBA season, you might have noticed a guard named Kendrick Nunn lighting it up. 

The 24-year-old is averaging 18.3 points per game while shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range. Nunn scored 112 points in his first five NBA games, the most ever by an undrafted rookie.

Nunn, along with fellow rookie Tyler Herro and star Jimmy Butler, have the Heat off to a 5-2 start and looking like a contender in the Eastern Conference. 

Those of you who've heard of Nunn probably know he spent last season on the Warriors' G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. Given the current decimated state of the Warriors, some might be wondering why the Warriors let a talented, young scorer such as Nunn get away.

Nunn, a prolific collegiate scorer, started his college career at Illinois before a female acquaintance accused him of grabbing her around the neck and pouring water on her. While Nunn denies that he choked her, he agreed to a plea deal and two counts of domestic battery were dismissed. 

After being booted from Illinois, Nunn found himself at Oakland University where he averaged 25.9 points per game as a senior, finishing second nationally behind Trae Young.

 

He went undrafted, but eventually signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Warriors, which means he was tied to their G Leauge affiliate. The Warriors cut Nunn during training camp last season and placed him in Santa Cruz.

Nunn averaged 19 points per game for Santa Cruz and his agent tried to get him a temporary spot with the Warriors. 

“I pushed pretty strongly for a 10-day (NBA contract),” Nunn’s agent, Adam Pensack, told The Athletic's David Aldridge.

But, with the Warriors facing luxury tax issues due to their superteam and lack of roster flexibility, Golden State was unable to bring Nunn aboard.

Via Aldridge:

Nunn would actually cost Golden State a couple hundred thousand dollars more in tax payments. Nor was there a roster spot available at the time.

The sharpshooting guard then went searching for an NBA deal after the G League playoffs ended, one he found with the Heat, who were aware of his talent.

“We saw a lot of potential in the fact that he could score in a variety of ways,” Heat Director of Scouting Chet Kammerer told Aldridge. “He could shoot the 3, but he could also get to the basket. When I say ‘hard to guard,’ I think he is. He can take you off the dribble, and he can shoot. He had a better feel for the game than we expected.”

Nunn has been incredible for Miami, and it's hard for Warriors fans not to think of what he would have looked like as a part of this young, gritty Dubs team that just knocked off the Trail Blazers behind rookie Eric Paschall's 34-point barrage. Putting Nunn with Paschall, rookie Jordan Poole and two-way player Ky Bowman would give the Warriors a glut of young talent to develop and then pair with Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson once they return from injury.

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Hindsight always is 20/20.

Would the Warriors like to go back and find a way to get Nunn a 10-day contract in order to get him on this year's roster? Sure. But general manager Bob Myers had no way of knowing the rash of injuries that would befall his team or that Kevin Durant would choose to leave the Bay to sign with the Nets.

The Warriors were focused on keeping their dynasty humming at full speed, and once they were forced to change course, Nunn already was a member of the Heat.

 

The Warriors might be "lightyears ahead," but even they can't catch all the breaks.