After going from an undrafted castoff from the Warriors to a valuable rotation piece with the Miami Heat over the past two seasons, Kendrick Nunn surprised many when he chose to sign with the Lakers for the mid-level exception last summer.
It continues an NBA journey for Nunn that started with a year on the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League, before signing with Miami and becoming a key part of the team that made a surprising run to the NBA Finals in the 2020 Orlando Bubble — before, of course, losing to the Lakers.
But Nunn’s decision to sign with the Lakers is not just an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” calculation, but also a full-circle moment for him.
“One of my draft workouts was here, with the Lakers,” Nunn said. “I think I had maybe 12 or 13 workouts, but definitely coming here, there was that feeling that I wanted to put on a Lakers jersey and play for this organization.”
He’ll now get his wish. Nunn will (probably) not be the starter he was in Miami, where he started all 67 regular-season games he played in 2019-20 and 44 of the 56 he played in the abbreviated 2020-21 season. But he figures to be the backup point guard behind Russell Westbrook, and his combo-guard scoring ability allows him to play off-ball alongside Westbrook and LeBron James as well.
Though Nunn’s scoring average dipped slightly from 15.3 points per game in 2019-20 to 14.6 last season, he also boosted his three-point percentage, going from 35% to 38.1%. Surrounding Westbrook and James with plenty of three-point shooting was a major goal of Rob Pelinka this past offseason, and Nunn figures to help fill that need.
Though we have seen Lakers role players demand starting jobs in the recent past, this squad appears far different, with many of the team’s new veteran additions flat-out stating they don’t really care what their role is as long as they are helping the team win.
Though Nunn is not really a veteran, and will be primarily coming off the bench for the first extended stretch of his career, he will do so behind one of the best point guards of his generation and one of the most accomplished superstar trios ever assembled on an NBA team. It would be hard to get too upset about that, especially when the opportunity is coming for a team he always wanted to join.