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Analysis: Warriors’ undrafted free agents shine in Summer League win over Miami Heat

Kendrick Nunn leads the Warriors with 19 points while Howard and Omot also impressive in the Warriors’ 79-68 win to open their Summer League season.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Though most everyone was still processing the news that DeMarcus Cousins had agreed to sign with the Golden State Warriors, there was still actual basketball happening on Monday night.

Specifically, the Warriors began their 2018 NBA Summer League campaign with the first of three games they will play at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

The Warriors began their summer schedule with a matchup against the Miami Heat, a game that they won 79-68. It was an intense and competitive game for the first one of the summer and it also gave everyone a look at some of the new additions to the Warriors’ roster.

Nunn leads the way

Since first-round pick Jacob Evans III wasn’t going to to play in Monday night’s game, the player of greatest interest to the Warriors was Kendrick Nunn. The Warriors signed Nunn, who was the 2018 Horizon League Player of the Year at Oakland, after the draft to a partially guaranteed contract.

Nunn’s first game with the team was impressive as he finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

He only made one three-pointer, which came on this pull-up jumper in transition.

Last year, really shone a light on the Warriors’ lack of depth when it comes to wings and ball handlers. They sought to upgrade there by drafting Evans with that first-round pick and they’ll have Quinn Cook on the roster at the beginning of next season. Yet the Warriors are always looking for more depth in that area. In the first game of Summer League, Nunn showed he might be able to be a part of that for the Warriors going forward.

So-so games from Bell and Jones

The two players most Warriors fans were already most familiar with—Jordan Bell and Damian Jones—both had somewhat underwhelming starts to their respective Summer Leagues.

It was a real rough one for Bell, who scored just four points and grabbed five rebounds. Bell even blew an attempt late in the fourth quarter to recreate the off-the-backboard dunk from last season against the Dallas Mavericks.

Jones didn’t struggle in quite the same way that Bell did. Jones finished with 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting against the Heat while grabbing 6 rebounds as well. Jones also displayed a mid-range jumper once or twice that is definitely new and something he’s clearly working to develop.

It would have been nice to see a little bit more of that or of Jones really affecting things and being a factor. But with that said, I still think Jones is improving and is someone that the Warriors can give limited minutes to next season.

Hamilton and Omot make the most of their time

A player that I was impressed by in Monday night’s win was Jordan Howard, a rookie from Central Arkansas. Like Nunn, Howard was another undrafted free agent that the Warriors signed. Also like Nunn, Howard is another guard as the Warriors look to get a little more depth in that part of their roster.

Taking a look at Howard’s college highlights, you can definitely see why the Warriors would be interested in a player like him.

Coming off the bench, Howard scored 12 points including going 2/6 from three-point range. When Hamilton was open and the Warriors got him the ball, he knocked down those shots.

Of the team’s eight made three-pointers, six of those came in the first half.

One other player who impressed from the Warriors was Nuni Omot. Omot, an undrafted free agent from Baylor, scored nine points in the win over the Heat, including two courtesy of this alley-oop pass from Nunn.

Adebayo and Jones Jr. stand out for Heat

A couple of Heat players also turned some heads as well. One was Bam Adebayo, who they took with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Adebayo scored 14 points, eight of which came from the free-throw line. It was clear throughout the game that Adebayo was there to work hard and continue his development as a player.

The other Heat player who was impressive in the loss was Derrick Jones Jr. Jones led all scorers with 24 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds.

Jones has bounced around a bit in his brief career, going undrafted out of UNLV, eventually ending up with the Phoenix Suns before coming to the Heat organization at the end of 2017.

Jones’ performance was one of a player who is looking to catch someone’s eye so he can make his way onto a NBA roster. On Monday night, he played like someone who could be a contributor for a professional team.

The Warriors next game is tonight at 8 p.m. PST against the host Sacramento Kings.

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