The Miami Heat won their season opener without Jimmy Butler (sitting due to personal reasons), thanks to the contributions of a few buzzy rookies. While Tyler Herro has already been talked up as a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate, it was Kendrick Nunn who really stole the show with 24 points in his NBA debut.
It was unclear if Nunn, who went undrafted out of Oakland in 2018, was starting in place of Butler, and furthermore what his rotation role would be with the Heat's prized acquisition back in the lineup. Although, head coach Eric Spoelstra cleared the air on Thursday, announcing that Nunn would remain in the starting five, sending Herro to the bench.
The news is great for Nunn's fantasy value, as he was a fringe pickup heading into the season, aided by the fact he was in the starting five on opening night. Nunn (owned in 16 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball leagues) will now be a starter for the immediate future, and makes for a great pickup in all leagues.
Nunn first got noticed during the Heat's Summer League, when he averaged 21 points, 6.3 assists and 5 rebounds playing alongside Herro in the backcourt. The lore continued during the preseason, capped off by a 40-point game against the Houston Rockets, in which Nunn put moves on both James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
On a team lacking scoring options after Butler, Nunn is in a great position to deliver points, as well as some assists, steals and threes, from the point guard position. He is looking like one of the best early-season, high-upside lottery tickets in fantasy hoops. With Dion Waiters currently in the dog house, the opportunity is certainly there for Nunn to continue contributing.
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