James Nunnally is a 27 year old 201cm forward from California that is playing his sixth professional season and second with Fenerbahce Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) whom he helped win the 2017 Euroleague title averaging 5.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 45.1%, FT: 87.0%. In the Turkish league he averaged 11.9ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT-1(57.1%), FT: 86.2%. He started his professional basketball career in 2012 with Enosi Kalathosfairisis Kavalas (Greece-A1) playing 2 games averaging 9.0ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.5apg; Balkan League: 1 game: 11pts, 3reb, 1ast, then signed with the Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 51 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 88.6%. In the 2013-2014 season he made the jump to the NBA playing with the Phoenix Suns (NBA) playing 9 games averaging 2.6ppg, 1.2rpg, played with the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) playing 4 games averaging 4.5ppg, 2.0rpg, played with the Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 25 games averaging 18.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.1apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 84.8%, played with the Frisco Texas Legends (D-League) playing 10 games averaging 17.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 60.3%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 78.1%, and played with the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) playing 9 games averaging 2.6ppg, 1.2rpg. In the 2014-2015 season he played with Tuenti Movil Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 7 games averaging 9.4ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 58.1%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 75.0%, and also played with Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Winner League) playing 24 games: Score-4(17.1ppg), 7.8rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 80.0%. In the 2015-2016 season he played with Scandone Avellino (Italy-Serie A) playing 40 games: Score-3(18.4ppg), 4.2rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT-2(90.8%). He played at UCSB (NCAA) from 2008-2012 playing a total of 122 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 15.7ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 79.8%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Euroleague game against Brose Bamberg in Bamberg,
James thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. Last season you swept the series against Brose Bamberg. Had that been your first time in Germany or had you been there before?
No that had been my second time. My first visit to Germany was when I played with Italian team Avellino and we played in a pre season tournament in Hagen. I remember a couple of good games. The fans were crazy there. It was a good experience.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball. Do you have any friends playing here?
One of my good buddies is Peyton Siva who plays for Alba Berlin. I also played briefly with Dennis Schroeder with the Atlanta Hawks and my sister in law is German.
Last season you won a nail bitter at home by one point and won on the road in an also tight game. What memories do you have of last season´s victory in Bamberg?
The fans were crazy in Bamberg. We actually had quite a few Turkish fans in Bamberg so the fan support seemed even. It got really loud in that arena when the game got tight. Bamberg had great fans.
What was your impression of Bamberg last season? They had a very good team and with some breaks might have gone farther in the Euroleague. Did you see that also?
They were a talented team. I remember Darius Miller who was their best 1-1 scorer and also Daniel Theis who is a big time hustle guy that always brought great energy.
This season they are struggling with the BBL and Euroleague as the team had a big facelift. What kind of game can we await and what will be key to winning?
Every game in the Euroleague is a fight. You battle each game and have to fight for everything.
Has Brad Wanamaker told some interesting stories from his time here? How have you sensed his demeanor coming back to an old stomping ground?
He hasn´t talked so much about the basketball side, but said the city wasn´t big, but just chill. You had to find things to do. I do sense that he wants to play his old team again though.
If some bold person had told you in the summer of 2009 after your freshman year at UCSB that 8 years later you would have played in the NBA and won the Euroleague what would you have thought? How blessed are you with your life?
I don´t know. I probably would have believed those words, because I was confident in myself. I always knew what I wanted to do and playing professionally was it. People dream of these things happening and sometimes dreams come true. Dreams happen when you put in the work and I did that .Even if I have won titles and reached the NBA, I strive for more. I am always hungry.
After playing NBA Summer League from 2012-2016, you didn´t play this past summer after winning the Euroleague. Are you content now at age 27 to be a high profile Euroleague player and seek titles and put the NBA on the back burner?
I never want to say no. I am fine where I am now. If the opportunity presents itself then I would have to think about because the NBA is the best league in the world and has the best players. But the Euroleague has a great history, great competition and has good players also.
What was really the key component last season in the Euroleague win that allowed this special team to win it all?
We were an experienced team that was healthy and played together at the right time. The struggles we did have during the season helped us turn things around and play our best basketball when we needed it most.
The club kept a majority of players from last season title team and added Brad Wanamaker and Nicolo Melli. Does the team feel much pressure to repeat and is the “we believe” feeling in your minds already now?
The season just started and we are still feeling each other out and still trying to gel with each other. We did get new players that have to learn a new system. That takes time.
After coming from the NBA in 2014, you got your feet wet again in Europe in Spain and Israel and the season after moved to Scandone Avellino (Italy-Serie A) playing 40 games: Score-3(18.4ppg), 4.2rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT-2(90.8%). Do you feel like this was your true breakout season in Europe which was something like your Euroleague screen test?
My time in Italy with Avellino made me like basketball again. I wasn´t enjoying basketball before that. I wasn´t treated well in Spain, but then I moved to Israel and I loved my time there. But I loved Avellino. That was a very special place for me. I got a chance to show there what I could do on the court. We had a lot of veterans which made it easier increasing my learning speed. I won the MVP there and I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff and my teammates.
How important was it having a guy like ex NBA player Alex Acker around who had seen it all in the NBA and returned back to Europe and has had a stellar career. Did his experience from having to make the transition back to Europe rub off on you?
Alex helped me in many different ways like with certain strategies on offense and defense. He was a good veteran to have and was a good friend off the court.
In the 2014-2015 season you came back to Europe and split time with Tuenti Movil Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-Liga Endesa): 7 games: 9.4ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 58.1%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 75.0%, in Dec.’14 moved to Maccabi Ashdod (Israel-Winner League, starting five): 24 games: Score-4(17.1ppg), 7.8rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 80.0%. After moving from Spain to Israel you really blossomed. Was Israel a good example of how important a certain situation can be?
Yes Israel was a very good example of how important the certain situation can be. In Spain, I didn´t understand why the coach didn´t want us playing more than 20 minutes a game when all we had was one game per week. Spain simply wasn´t the right fit for me. Israel on the other hand was a different style and that fit the team best. We had very good players. We might not have had the best record, but made a great turnaround. When I arrived the team was 1-11, but when the season ended we were one game away from the playoffs. We were successful at the end because we talked things out and had to figure things out on our own.
You spent a season in the NBA and D-League in 2013-2014 with the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers and played with the Bakersfield Jam and Texas Legends. You had 10 day contracts and played 9 games with the 76ers and 4 games with the Atlanta Hawks. When you look back at your NBA gig, what did you appreciate most about the experience?
I appreciated how hard I had to work to reach the NBA. Dreams really can come true when hard works really pays off. I didn´t have the best opportunity to showcase my skills, but all in all the experience was a big blessing.
With Atlanta you saw the early development of German Dennis Schroeder who has kept developing. How far do you see a guy like him getting down the road? Could he become a top 5 NBA point guard?
Dennis has game. He could be a top 5 NBA point guard depending how hard he works. He still has a lot of upside. He was a gym rat. I remember going to the gym with him after games.
What did you learn about the NBA process? There are probably many less talented players than you that have stuck in the NBA. Has it bothered you that over the years despite showing your craft in the NBA Summer League that you didn´t get an another chance?
That is a great question. It has bothered me. I will not watch the next guy. I feel that I wasn´t in the right place at the right time. Some get in the right situation and then get a great chance.
I know you have played with hundreds of players and against thousands, but let´s see how good your memory is. In 2014 you played 5 NBA Summer League games with the Miami Heat and your teammate was German Danilo Barthel. Do you have any memory of him?
I don’t remember playing along with him in summer league maybe I missed him since I played with Indiana in The Orlando summer league prior to switching from Dallas to Miami in Las Vegas.
As a rookie you played briefly with Enosi Kalathosfairisis Kavalas (Greece-A1). What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in California?
I had no wake up call there at first. I wanted to go there, but my agent told me not to. I should have listened to him but I was thinking to much of the money. The club didn´t pay a big portion of my money and I eventually left. After going from practice to practice, playing games, and taking 16 hour bus rides to Bulgaria, I was just fed up and angry. I decided not to play the next game and threatened to leave, but the club wanted to keep me, but after still seeing no money, I left a few days later and flew back to San Francisco. Soon I was playing in the D-League with the Bakersfield Jam.
You played at UCSB from 2008-2012 winning two Big West tournaments. When looking back which one was sweeter?
The first one. There had been a huge drought at UCSB for years of losing and not reaching the tournament.
How did head coach Bob Williams groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He was a hands on coach. He made you responsible for your mistakes. Also his assistant coaches played a big role as did he in getting me ready for professional ball.
What memories do you have of Orlando Johnson? How competitive was playing with him and going into your senior year, did either of you two ever mention the NBA being a possibility?
Yes we talked about the NBA. He is one of my best friends. Every practice with Orlando was very competitive. Coach always had to switch up the lineups, because when we played on the same team, we always won. He brought out the best in me and I brought out the best in him. He had a plan and reached the NBA playing three years there.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Orlando Johnson?
We also train together in the summer. He won his share and I won my share. He is a great one on one player that is very hard to stop.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
The fastest was Ty Lawson. He played with the great North Carolina teams with Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Zeller, Deon Thompson and Ed Davis. I remember that was my freshman year and my third game as we were in the game and even led before halftime. Another tough player was Evan Turner who played with Ohio State.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaq
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
My list now is 1.Jordan 2 Kobe 3 Lebron
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
Yes it is a fair assessment. He was on a bad team and was stacking his stats. I am big on winners like Tim Duncan who is one of my favorites of all-time.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I didn´t follow the young boys much. Lonzo Ball will have a hard time because he has a target on his back. But Ball is very good. Ben Simmons will win rookie of the year.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I don´t know. I think that they are missing a dominant big man.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
The deal was great for Kyrie Irving. I think it was messed up how Isaiah Thomas was treated. He did great for them and they just traded him. The deal is great for the Celtics long term.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
No they can´t
What was the last movie that you saw?
I have been watching the TV series 24. It´s a great show.
Thanks James for the chat.