Perhaps the biggest question heading into the Los Angeles Lakers preseason opener was who would fill out the starting lineup next to LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. It would turn out to be Kendrick Nunn at the other guard spot and Damian Jones at center making up the starting five.
Nunn was one of the better performers for the Lakers on the night, hitting 4-of-7 shots from the field including a 3-pointer to finish with nine points and two rebounds. When asked about the decision to start Nunn over the other potential options, head coach Darvin Ham made it clear that Nunn put in the work to earn this position.
“I mean, we have a lot of guys that can fit in that spot,” Ham said prior to the Lakers’ 105-75 loss. “Pat Bev. Austin Reaves. When Lonnie [Walker] gets healthy, but Kendrick has worked over the summer and proved that he was committed to not only getting healthy, but getting healthy and trying to take his game to the next level. Just to see him in there daily, it was a while before I could even go on vacation, all the time I’m in the office every day, I see him downstairs. I come down, talk to him, greet him and constantly reassure him and motivate him like in terms of what his role is going to be in all of this. He’s chomping at the bit.
“You know, to sit out the whole entire season. The way his career was trending coming from Miami, I want to pick right back up where he left off, and he’s embraced it. He fit. He totally fits with Bron and Russ. He fits as well as Damian Jones, but Kendrick has been one of the many bright spots in camp. He’s often shot the ball extremely well. I’ve challenged him defensively, and he’s made strides. We watched some stuff on film this morning just from our scrimmages. Again, we emphasize in our principles and what our identity will be. He’s been awesome. He’s earned it.”
After sitting out all of last season due to a bone bruise in his knee, the pressure is on Nunn to deliver this year and he is off to a good start. The biggest thing for him, in addition to defending at a high level, will be his ability to knock down open shots. The Lakers’ badly need some shooting in their starting lineup to keep the floor spaced and Nunn is their best chance at that.
Regardless, it is great to see Nunn back on the court because he has truly worked hard to get back to where he is today. Whether he remains a starter or comes off the bench, he looks to be someone who will be a major contributor for the Lakers this season.
Nunn ‘felt real good’ in preseason opener for Lakers
No one was looking forward to being back on the court more than Nunn after not seeing the floor at all last season. And afterwards, the Lakers guard said he felt good.
“Getting my legs back under me, my speed, my strength, I felt real good out there,” Nunn said following the loss.
But in terms of what he brings to the starting lineup and the Lakers’ star trio, Nunn spoke to the spacing and believes that will continue to improve.
“Giving guys some space, and obviously, we didn’t play as much tonight, but as the season goes on, you’ll see it more,” he said.
“I think the spacing was good tonight to start off. Then my second group to start the second half was a little stagnant, I would say. We didn’t get out there defensively. But first group when I was in, that space was pretty, pretty uptight, and the pace was good as well.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!