Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn has a point, just not a good enough one

Kendrick Nunn #25 of the Miami Heat drives up the court after a steal (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Kendrick Nunn #25 of the Miami Heat drives up the court after a steal (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Miami Heat rookie stud combo guard Kendrick Nunn thinks he should be the rookie of the year. Though he has a point, it’s just not the strongest one.

The Miami Heat have experienced a ton of unexpected success this season that no one could have seen coming. While many thought that they would struggle to merely be a seventh or eighth seed by the time the NBA playoffs rolled around, they have somehow managed to not only not be a bottom-feeding team, but one of the top teams in the league and Eastern Conference.

Using the word somehow loosely, it’s pretty apparent how they got here. They did it through a ton of hard world, discipline, teamwork, and comradery, but the players themselves have a ton to do with it as well.

Jimmy Butler has come over and proceeded to prove everyone wrong who thought he wasn’t coming to Miami to try and win big at the highest level. Returning players like Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo have come out and solidified themselves as elite performers at what they do.

Rookies like Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have even also come out and become primetime players right before our very eyes. So much so, that one of those rookies in Kendrick Nunn has found himself squarely in the middle of the NBA’s Rookie Of The Year race, although he doesn’t think it’s a race at all.

Nunn expressed as much in a recent interview of sorts. Here is an excerpt from a piece by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel where he tells him just that.

"“I’m Rookie of the Year,” Nunn said in an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, not backing down even when reminded of the superior statistics of Memphis Grizzlies breakout rookie Ja Morant.“I think people will say that he is Rookie of the Year, but I don’t believe it,” Nunn continued. “The most value should be in the wins. And we’re both starting guards on teams, and our team has been holding it down. We’re a playoff team, so go ahead and give that Rookie of the Year to Kendrick Nunn.”"

Strong words from a confident guy. He isn’t the only person of big confidence in this discussion though.

Upon hearing the news for himself, the Memphis Grizzlies’ star rookie point guard had a thought on the topic himself. Here is his reaction.

To be frank, it seems rather disrespectful on Morant’s behalf and not just because well… it is, but also because it’s a close race. Morant is the leader in the clubhouse for the reward, but it isn’t a laughable gap betwixt the two as Morant would have you to believe.

When you break it down, here are their splits for statistics. Kendrick Nunn has averaged 15.6 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per contest on 44.8 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from three.

Ja Morant, in the same light, has averaged 17.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game on 49.1 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three. The numbers are eerily similar.

When you look at team success from a raw perspective, Kendrick Nunn has the victory, but they are about equal relatively as both of their teams have supremely overachieved based on expectations. You could even go as far as relative meaningfulness to their team and by relative, you mean in relation to the role they are asked to play. They both fill those roles exquisitely.

Absolute value is where things start to lean heavily towards Morant. To be simple, without Nunn, the Miami Heat would only be slightly worse, if any at all. Without Morant, the Grizzlies would be exponentially worst.

You could give Nunn a bit of credit for having similar numbers, while Morant has a ton more opportunity considering that he has to have the ball all the time as the point guard, whereas Nunn shares it more.

On the other hand, that could actually be a plus for Morant’s case in certain instances as well, depending on how you view it. Here is what one former Miami Heat player and current Memphis Grizzlies player had to say on the situation, relevant here because he has a first-hand look at both.

You could argue with Justise Winslow here, but why, he has a point. You also have to take his opinion with a slight grain of salt, considering that Morant is his current teammate and Nunn is a former teammate.

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While we would love nothing more than to hype our guy regardless and hand him the award, we have to be honest. We would like to say though, it’s not as big a gap as some (including Ja Morant himself) tend to think and we are still hoping to have the rest of this season to fully sort out a truly right answer.