Miami Heat

Nunn making case for spot in Heat rotation. Spoelstra: ‘He offers something that we need.’

Erik Spoelstra didn’t need a 40-point performance from Kendrick Nunn to validate his view of the 24-year-old guard. But the Heat coach got one anyway.

“That game didn’t move the needle any more or less for me,” Spoelstra said following Sunday’s practice, referring to Nunn’s 40-point outing in Friday’s preseason finale against the Rockets. “We’ve been in the gym with him since early summer. I’ve seen his body of work. Summer league, in my mind, he was All-Summer League. But he could have been easily the MVP of summer league. He played at a high level. In camp, he showed really good moments.”

Then Spoelstra paused before making it clear Nunn is in the running for a spot in the Heat’s rotation this season, which puts him in the mix with Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro as guards vying for minutes.

“He offers something that we need,” Spoelstra said. “I’ll have to figure out exactly where that will be. But he certainly is somebody that’s going to earn minutes somehow.”

Nunn averaged 13.8 points while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 47.8 percent on threes and 3.6 assists in five preseason games. His 40-point night on 15-of-27 shooting Friday helped lift those numbers.

The most encouraging aspect of Nunn’s preseason, though, could be his assist-to-turnover numbers. Known as a prolific scorer from his college days, Nunn has worked to refine his point guard skills and recorded 18 assists to only five turnovers this preseason.

“I came a long way and I’m still developing,” said Nunn, who went undrafted out of Oakland University in 2018. “Just getting outside of my comfort zone, using my voice more and being more vocal. Getting guys where they need to be in spots, kind of running the team. I think I’m doing a good job of it, but I’m still developing.”

Nunn signed with the Heat on the final day of the 2018-19 regular season after spending his first professional season in the G League. He averaged 19.3 points in 49 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season.

“They were sleeping a little bit,” Nunn said of proving those wrong who didn’t give him much of an NBA chance. “They’re probably still sleeping. But I’m going to keep waking them up every time I play.

“I think I deserved to get drafted and stuff like that, but it went the other way. Then last season, not making the roster. I knew I was good enough to play, but it didn’t happen. But I’m glad I got the opportunity here.”

An event to remember

On Saturday night, Spoelstra and wife Nikki, together with Art Angels, hosted the first annual Work of HeART event benefiting the Miami Learning Experience School.

“It was a great event,” Spoelstra said Sunday. “My wife and I have been involved with the Miami Learning Experience for several years. ... We had a great turnout, raised a bunch of money to give back to the school. That school is where magic happens. There’s an amazing faculty and amazing students that are there. It’s a school of kids and adults with developmental disabilities, but what we like to say are developmental possibilities. With love and inclusion, anything can happen.”

The Miami Learning Experience School “promotes a safe and peaceful environment that encourages individualized academic, social and emotional growth for all children and adults with development disabilities, providing students with the necessary tools to go beyond the classroom and become active members of the community.”

Heat forwards Derrick Jones Jr. (left thigh contusion), Udonis Haslem (sprained left wrist) and KZ Okpala (illness) did not practice Sunday.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.
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