August 7, 2018, 4:40 pm
The Wolves have finally added a true small forward to the roster, signing James Nunnally to a two-year contract according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. The terms of the deal are not yet known, but it’s likely a minimum contract with a partial guarantee.
Euroleague standout James Nunnally has agreed to a two-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 7, 2018
If the name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because he hasn’t been around the NBA much, but instead torching up the Euroleague from beyond the arc.
Undrafted in 2012 out of UC Santa Barbra (where he was a career 38.6 3-point shooter), Nunnally put two years of service into the G-League (where he was a career 41 percent 3-point shooter, sense a theme?). He was awarded three 10-day contracts to close out the 2013-14 season before deciding to jump overseas and formulate an international career.
He bounced around quite a bit before most notably landing in Turkey to play for Fenerbahce, one of the biggest powerhouse teams in Euroleague. He helped the team win a title in 2016-17, shooting a robust 45.1 percent from 3-point range, then followed up that campaign shooting 55.4 percent in 2017-18 (on 2.9 attempts per game!), losing to the Luka Doncic led Real Madrid squad in the championship.
Really happy for Bako Jam alum James Nunnally (27th G-League draft pick in 2012) signing w/ Minny. He's played in Greece, Puerto Rico, Spain, Israel, Italy, and most recently Turkey for Fenerbahce. Prototype size, high-level shooter, feel for the game. Grinded back to the NBA.
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) August 7, 2018
This feels like a savvy move for the team and shows that they did their homework. Standing at 6′-7″ Nunnally has ideal size for the wing and at 28 years old with high-level Euro experience, he fits the exact player Thibodeau described in their offseason presser. More than just a shooter, Nunnally is also capable with the ball in his hands and understands team basketball. Euroleague is much different than the NBA and encourages more ball movement and team play.
Big game for former Bakersfield Jam wing James Nunnally against Real Madrid — 16 PTS on 8 shots in 29 MIN. Great to see him back on the floor after a scary fall in January. He's shooting 56% from 3 on the year. pic.twitter.com/21hJ3ziJB6
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 3, 2018
Nunnally was determined to return to the NBA. The Wolves brought him in for a workout in early July, according to Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports. He also had workouts with the Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets, and other teams showed varied interest.
His fit with the Wolves is clear, and it’s possible he chose the Wolves over others because the path to playing time is not hard to envision. With Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins as the only two established players on the wing, Nunnally has a huge opportunity to carve out a role that no one on the Wolves could last year.
Between the disastrous stretch from Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bejlica playing somewhat out of position and the Wolves giving Derrick Rose a shot in three-guard lineups, noting quite seemed to work over the course of the season at the reserve wing for Minnesota.
Nunnally can solve that weakness and give the Wolves a dynamic they completely lacked last season, so long as he can carry over that sweet shooting stroke from Europe.
With Tyus Jones being the facilitator, Rose being the playmaker, Nunnally and Anthony Tolliver stretching the floor and Gorgui Dieng manning the middle, the Wolves have a semblance of a bench squad that is versatile and experienced, a key for Thibodeau. As well as Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop played in the Summer League, it was a risky proposition to bet on them to contribute right away for a playoff contender. Now the two can come in and compete with a little less pressure.
The roster now stands at 15 players, including both the two-way contracts the Wolves signed. This should just about complete the offseason for the team as they are totally capped out.
The Wolves set out to add playmaking, defense and shooting. Between bringing back Rose and adding Tolliver, Okogie, Bates-Diop and now Nunnally the Wolves achieved just that. They may not have been the biggest household names but with limited resources this feel like a solid haul for Minnesota.
Here’s a highlight package from Nunnally’s 2017-18 season to send you off.