Ergin Ataman explains how he's trying to get Kendrick Nunn acclimated to Panathinaikos

2023-11-20 18:25

Kendrick Nunn recorded a new scoring high with Panathinaikos in the Greens' win over AEK, where he also made his first 3-point shots. Ergin Ataman weighed in on the American scorer's adjustment and praised his character.

Credit: Vangelis Stolis
Credit Vangelis Stolis

Following his slow start with Panathinaikos Athens jersey, Kendrick Nunn has turned into a real scoring force for the Greens.

The former Miami Heat guard started off with a combined six points over his first two EuroLeague outings, before exploding in the contest against Virtus Segafredo Bologna, where he provided solutions to his team on both ends of the court. Nunn recorded 11 points, three rebounds and two steals on Friday night.

However, his accomplishments in the Greek league fixture against AEK were even more impressive. Not only because he scored his first 3-point shot in his European stint, but mainly because he made another three from distance for a total of 18 points, to go along with six boards and four dimes for a PIR of 27. 

Kendrick Nunn

Kendrick  Nunn
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Position: PG
Age: 28
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Birth place: Chicago, United States of America

Nunn was Panathinaikos' player of the game in the Greens' narrow 86-85 win over AEK that kept Ergin Ataman's squad atop of the standings. 

"We're the only EuroLeague team that hasn't lost in its home country," the Turkish coach noted in the postgame presser. 

Panathinaikos stand at 7-0, having already beaten their main rivals Olympiacos on the road. The game against AEK could have tarnished the Greens' immaculate home run, as Chasson Randle missed an open 3-point shot that could have changed the outcome in AEK's favor. 

"After the EuroLeague double week, that kind of game is difficult," Ataman observed. His team was holding on to an 11-point lead at halftime.

"In the first half, we played well and controlled the game. Then, we believed that the game was over. AEK didn't up and we were soft and conceded 29 points. Our defense wasn't good," he continued.

Panathinaikos gave up 14 offensive boards and allowed AEK to shoot 42% from distance. 

"We started playing the real game. When I saw our field goals, we had a good percentage, but we gave up offensive rebounds and they scored 26 points off them, especially [Mindaugas] Kuzminskas and [Mfiondu] Kabengele."

However, that's where Kendrick Nunn stepped in.

"In the last quarter, Nunn showed his quality when we were tired. We know his quality. He's a great scorer and player, but he arrived two weeks ago. He didn't make the preparation," Ataman reflected.

"It's not easy to put a dominant player in the system, but every day, he's understanding his role in the team and we understand better his capacity and where he can help best."

Ataman thinks that getting playing time in the Greek league can be beneficial for Nunn, who came to Europe as a prolific scorer who had somewhat lost his NBA grip. In this vein, stepping up big-time seems to be exactly what Ataman and Panathinaikos' staff would expect of him. 

The two-time EuroLeague winner is certain that games like the one against AEK can boost Nunn's self-confidence and get him more easily acclimated to the squad.

"For sure," he replied.

"In the Greek league, it's more easy to give room and more confidence to new players. In the EuroLeague, two possessions can lose you the game. So, you have to be careful."

Ataman pointed out that the goal is for Nunn to understand his position, the team and his teammates. At the same time, Panathinaikos' players are slowly getting acquainted with Nunn's game.

"You can't play with 20 plays because the opponents make traps," Ataman stressed.

"We trust him. He had 6 rebounds and 4 assists. We know he's a big name, but he's also a big character. He didn't accept losing the game. He put his energy and his hustle to win the game. That's very important," Ataman concluded. 


We want to hear from you. Be the first to comment!

Add comment

  Subscribe   Total comments: 0

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website