Most players take time, at least a few days, to adjust to their new team after a trade is completed. For Kendrick Nunn, whom the Wizards acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers just over 48 hours before his Washington debut, the grace period was non-existent.
Nunn was inactive in his first game as a Wizard in Tuesday’s win over Dallas. On Wednesday, however, Nunn helped catalyze a 19-point comeback over the Houston Rockets.
The 27-year-old guard saw 22 minutes of action in his Wizards debut — a sharp increase from the 13 minutes he averaged in Los Angeles prior to the trade — and made the most of them. He put up 12 points, knocked down 5-of-9 field goal attempts and grabbed four rebounds and four assists for a +7.
“I just wanted to come in and impact the win,” Nunn said after the game. “Play hard, be aggressive, be myself and give yourself the power to win. That’s all I did today.”
With starting point guard Monte Morris out, Delon Wright got the start for Washington with Nunn entering the game early in the second quarter. His first shot was clean, hitting a pull-up midrange jumper minutes after subbing in. But in the third quarter, Nunn showed what he can do when he was on the floor.
As Washington began to mount their comeback behind a 29-point second-half effort by Kyle Kuzma, Nunn did his part by laying down a vicious left-handed dunk over Rockets big man Bruno Fernando. The very next play, Nunn led a fast break and dished up a smart back-to-back pass to Kuzma, who put it in.
Nunn also contributed on defense as one of four Wizards to finish the night with two or more steals.
“I try to be consistent on both ends of the floor,” Nunn said. “Get into them, use my speed and quickness against the defender – I did it tonight.”
It can be easy to forget what his ceiling is as an NBA player given Nunn’s tenure with the Lakers, where he experienced career lows in virtually every statistical category. He averaged 15.0 points per game. game during his first two NBA seasons in Miami, good enough for the All-Rookie First Team.
“A lot of work for that (dunk), I had to get it back,” Nunn said of overcoming injuries and adversity. “It was a long process too. It’s just a testament to my hard work and discipline. It feels good to be healthy and just come out here and play and have fun.”