When you hear or read about Duke shooting guard and projected mid to late first-round 2017 NBA draft pick Luke Kennard, what exactly do you think of?
Former Dukie and Piston Kyle Singler?
Detroit Pistons savior?
You don’t follow college basketball and while you have seen or heard Kennard’s name a bit, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a crowd?
I will tell you that the 6’5 or 6’6 Luke Kennard, even with his weaknesses, fits exactly what the Pistons need: shooting and play-making.
And about those weaknesses?
Kennard doesn’t have an amazing wingspan or a 40-inch vertical leap, nor will he ever be one of the quickest guys on the court at the NBA level. He needs to get stronger, as does practically every player heading into their rookie season. Though, I’m for optimism when it presents itself, and Kennard’s play for two seasons at perennial ACC power Duke surely gets those optimistic juices flowing.
Writer Andrew Bailey in a recent interview on Duke Report puts it pretty favorably when projecting Kennard:
Luke Kennard just strikes me as such a smart scorer. His distribution of two-point attempts (283), three-point attempts (201) and free-throw attempts (187) is almost ideal. Much like Frank Jackson, I think he has a lot of potential as a secondary play maker/pick-and-roll option. Though I see him as the more methodical, patient attacker.
Those shooting totals Bailey references are Kennard’s sophomore totals. In terms of shot conversion, Kennard is quite sharp in that department, converting on nearly 44 percent of his three-pointers as a sophomore (32 percent as a freshman) and nearly 49 percent overall from the floor (42.1 percent as a freshman). It’s not shocking to understand why Kennard was a unanimous selection for the All-ACC team as voted by the coaches and media. For reference, North Carolina Tar Heel Justin Jackson was second in voting and Wake Forest big man John Collins was third.
How does Kennard look on film? I’m glad you asked.
Kennard (#5 in dark), as you will see from these first five clips below, can score in a variety of ways. He’s not an easy cover. He gets to his spots and with consistent patience finds the best shot. You will notice that he is an adept north and south ball handler and that his use of hesitation dribbles and constant probing should be something he can do fairly well at the NBA level too.
Luke’s pretty quick release, albeit one that is probably a little low for most scouts’ liking, will serve him well. I’ve also noticed quite a few times he’s got that ball fake down pat.
Kennard can make plays for others too, totaling 91 assists as a sophomore, good for 2.5 per game. Check out that crafty look with his right hand on the last play. It’s no sweat for Kennard — he threw 26 touchdown passes in a high school season with his right hand. Ambidextrous he sure is!
For previous DBB 2017 NBA Draft mini-breakdowns of players, here’s a few links.
And if you missed it, check up on David Fernandez’s recent Pistons Mock Draft Review.
Plain and simple, Luke Kennard is one of those talented basketball players who is just that: a basketball player. He has a good all-around skill set, he has proven to play well at a high level in one of the best college basketball conferences in the world, and it certainly wouldn’t be far-fetched for him to be one of the best shooters in the NBA in a few years’ time.
Do you believe the hype?