“His ability to shoot the ball from outside the arc will be most important” Maccabi’s James Nunnally broken down by Feldhaus

Jun 27, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv made a surprising move and signed James Nunnally to a one year deal with an option for an additional season. The small forward has played in the Euroleague where he won a championship with Fenerbache in 2017 as well as in the NBA and in the Israel Basketball League.

Nunnally has earned much praise around the continent for his deft shooting from deep, averaging consistently well over 40% from beyond the arc while in Turkey, Italy, Greece and Israel. The 30-year old’s most recent stops included a 9 game spell at the end of this past season with the New Orleans Pelicans after having played in China and a number of contests back with Fenerbache.

Maccabi head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos spoke about his new recruit to the club’s website, “We welcome James Nunnally to the family of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. James is a player that we wanted to sign from the very first moment because he has the quality and the experience to help us reach our goals. He is a very important addition to our team. For sure the fact that he played in Israel in the past is an advantage as well.”

“I’m extremely excited to be headed back to Israel,” Nunnally began. “Especially to an organization with a tradition like Maccabi Tel Aviv. To the fans: I can’t wait to meet you all. Yalla Maccabi!.”

James Nunnally – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net

Lukas Feldhaus, The Sports Rabbi’s European Expert based in Germany offered his instant reaction to the signing:

“James Nunnally is a typical wing player who should be able to provide floor spacing to Maccabi’s offense. He finished five of his six seasons (with at least 10 games) in Europe with 3-pt shooting numbers over 40 %. He is however not a pure shooter. He averaged more 2pt than 3pt attempts in many seasons. He has been a complete spot-up player, who can knock down 3s and use his quick first step or a pump fake to drive to the rim or pull up from mid-range. In the past he also went to the post few times when he was defended by a small defender. However his ability to shoot the ball from outside the arc will be most important for this Maccabi team, which has been lacking consistency from outside. He is not a player who provides great creativity, but he has proven to be very efficient as a typical catch-and-shoot and catch-and-go player.

“Defensively his biggest strength is his versatility, which is important for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’ defensive schemes, which include quite a lot of switching. His weakness defensively might be his lateral quickness. He is a mediocre 1 on 1 defender who is sometimes a bit too slow against guards and not strong enough to match up with physical 3-men.

James Nunnally – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net

“Overall, signing Nunnally should be a good move by Maccabi. He can provide shooting and defensive versatility. Moreover he is known for being a good teammate and hustle player. It remains to be seen how quickly he will re-adapt to the EuroLeague game as he has not played on this level for quite a while and as he has played few games in general in the past 1.5 years. But bringing in a player of his experience and proven quality at the positions 3 and 2 should be a smart decision by Maccabi.”

The San Jose, California native attended UC Santa Barbara between 2008-2012 and went undrafted which led him to make his first stop overseas with Kavala in Greece, however, after just two games Nunnally headed back Stateside and joined the Bakersfield Jam which led him to a short stint with the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

James Nunnally – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net

In 2014, Nunnally began the season with Estudiantes in Spain’s ACB league but in November of that year he headed to the Holy Land and joined Maccabi Ashdod where he scored 17.1 points and close to 8 rebounds in 24 games. The forward’s next stop was Avelino in Italy where he notched 18.4 points in 30 games which allowed him to take the jump to Turkish powerhouse Fenerbache between 2016-18 where he played under coach Zeljko Obradovic.

Nunnally’s first campaign in Istanbul saw him capture the Euroleague championship while in the second season Fener made it to the Final Four where they fell to Zalgiris in the semifinals. He also suffered a brutal fall after hanging from the rim following a dunk which kept him on the shelf for about 6 weeks.

James Nunnally – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net

After shorts spells with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets it was back to Europe and to Milano in January 2019 where he played 10 games in both the Euroleague and the Italian league and averaged roughly 14 points per game in each competition. It was then off to China where he averaged 22.3 points, 5.5 boards and 3.3 assists in 12 games before heading back to Fenerbahce for 9 games before the pandemic hit.

On April 12, 2021 Nunnally signed with the Pelicans for the balance of the season where he saw limited minutes in nine appearances.

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