Heat's Kendrick Nunn Says He Deserves NBA Rookie of the Year over Ja Morant

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2020

Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn (25) stands on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn said he believes he's the right choice for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award this season, saying he feels he's a better choice than Memphis Grizzlies standout Ja Morant.   

"I think people will say that [Morant] is Rookie of the Year, but I don't believe it," he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "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."

The issue with that argument is that, while the Heat (41-24) have a superior record, the Grizzlies (32-33) would be a playoff team if the season ended today. They currently hold the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. And while the Heat were expected to be good, the young Grizzlies have exceeded expectations. 

Morant also wins the statistical comparison:

  • Nunn: 15.6 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.7 RPG, 44.8 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from three.
  • Morant: 17.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, 3.5 RPG, 49.1 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from three.

But Nunn said he hasn't been paying too much attention to his fellow rookies like Morant and Zion Williamson.

"I really wasn't watching," he noted. "I really wasn't watching their numbers or anything like that. I'm just watching them in the game, and see how they're playing and just trying to scout 'em, getting ready to play 'em."

Morant later responded to Nunn's claims with a post on his Twitter account:

Nunn, 24, is the biggest surprise of the three. While Williamson and Morant were the top two picks in the 2019 draft, Nunn went undrafted in 2018 and was signed by the Heat with one game remaining last season. He has fit in seamlessly with a core of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro.

"It actually happened in preseason," Nunn said of his ascension to starting guard. "When we were getting all the rotations together and figuring out the pieces on the team, the impact that I had offensively was needed for a starting position. So my scoring ability was there, so it made sense for me to start from the start of the season."

Nunn has unquestionably been one of the best stories of the season. Whether he's Rookie of the Year is another story. But even if Morant wins the award, it doesn't diminish what Nunn has done for the Heat this year.

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