Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn needs to raise the stakes in Oladipo’s absence

Kendrick Nunn #25 of the Miami Heat takes a shot against Jusuf Nurkic #27 (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Kendrick Nunn #25 of the Miami Heat takes a shot against Jusuf Nurkic #27 (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

You have to love the strides that the Miami Heat have made since breaking out of a six-game losing streak that dated back to mid-March. The Heat have been containing your favorite NBA superstars with their intensity and improved defense, while relentlessly forcing turnovers into transition baskets.

It’s without question that this Heat team is seemingly even more competitive than last year — which seemed unachievable. However, Miami will be without star guard, Victor Oladipo, who they recently acquired at the 2021 NBA trade deadline in March, as he went down with a knee injury in last Thursday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

As they’ll will be without Victor for the next several games, the Heat have re-inserted the guy who’s seemed to be an often-forgotten man in the rotation and as you’ve might’ve guessed, that guy is the one named Kendrick Nunn.

3 Immediate reactions to Victor Oladipo’s ‘indefinite’ absence. light. Also

The Miami Heat will need Kendrick Nunn to be explosive while Victor Oladipo figures out his knee situation.

In his first game since March 26th, Nunn returned to the starting lineup in Sunday’s great win against the Portland Trail-Blazers. He played 32 minutes on the way to being the Heat’s third leading-scorer, with 15 points on six-of-twelve shooting, while also giving Coach Spoelstra reassurance as Miami’s third-best playmaking option.

To quote one of the great poets and philosophers of our time, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter… “Please allow” Kendrick Nunn “to re-introduce” himself:

The activity in which Nunn brings to the Miami Heat lineup has been extremely under-appreciated. With a knack to score from all-three levels and and an improved ability (or willingness) to control the tempo as the point guard on the professional scene, the former 2019-20 NBA All-Rookie award winner has proven that even at the highest of stages, his production is extremely valuable for a Heat team that ranks in the bottom-five in point production.

However, for the duration of Oladipo’s absence, the Heat will need Nunn to play at a level unseen. As he’s still just 25 years old, while having played four collegiate years (126 games), there is still plenty of room for him to grow.

Take this fact for example, followed by a quote from Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, that exemplifies why those numbers reflect the true nature of his game and the value in his performances. Per 36 minutes, Nunn is averaging 18.1 points and also averages 24.7 points per 100 possessions.

"“Kendrick’s a tough kid, tough minded, and he really wants to be there for his team. Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra told Ira Winderman via Sun Sentinel. He’s handled it the right way, really put in a lot of time behind the scenes. And when he was given this opportunity again, he was ready for us.”"

While he’s regressed with his scoring production from last season, the opportunity for Kendrick Nunn to help fulfill the Heat’s weakest ability right now will be needed — and that’s putting the ball in the basket. As the Heat enter the final 19 games of the season, we should expect Kendrick to remain aggressive in wake of Oladipo’s absence.

Next. Is no real news… good news with Victor Oladipo?. dark

Consistency will be key. However, if he scores 30 one night and only 19 or 20 across the next few, that might not be the worst thing either.