If you get a chance to glance at the Eastern Conference standings, you'll notice that the Miami Heat are 9-3, having won three straight games over the Pistons, Cavaliers, and Pelicans. In what many expected to be a rebuilding season, the Heat are instead in the mix for the top seed in the East, just 1.5 games back of the top seeded Celtics. In case you are wondering if the Heat have benefited from a soft schedule, I should quickly add that they have notched wins against the Bucks and Rockets, who are both seeded #2 in their respective conferences. So the Heat have been beating some quality teams en route to their 9-3 start.
The biggest surprise on this Heat team has been Kendrick Nunn, a point guard out of Oakland University (Michigan) who went undrafted in 2018 and is in his first year in the league. Nunn has been on fire this year, averaging 17.8 points and 1.6 steals per game. Every now and then someone comes out of nowhere and plays really well and this year, that guy is Nunn.
Nunn hasn't been the only bright spot on this Heat team. Rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro is balling out as well, averaging 13.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He too is a rookie of the year candidate. In addition to Nunn and Herro, Jimmy Butler (18.4 points), Goran Dragic (16.1 points), Justise Winslow (13.8 points), and Bam Adebayo (13.9 points and 10.6 rebounds) are scoring in double figures as well.
(Kendrick Nunn. Credit: Lynne Sladky/AP Photo)
With six players scoring in double figures on average, the Heat have a lot of balance and different looks that they can give teams. This versatility is a major reason for why they are off to such a strong start. No one player is responsible.
What I'll be curious to see is if the Heat can continue on the pace they're on or if they'll fade as the season goes on. My honest guess is they'll fade a bit and retreat back to the 5-8 range in the East. The reason why is they're young and I expect Nunn and Herro to hit a rookie wall at some point. That said, the East is wide open this year and there is certainly room for the Heat to snag a top four seed come playoff time. If the Heat continue on the pace they're on and avoid hitting any sort of wall, they could be in for really good year.
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