For the Detroit Pistons and Stan Van Gundy they had three major priorities in what they wanted to address via the NBA Draft.
- Three-point shooting
- Playmaker and creator
- Quality defender
In Luke Kennard, well, two out of three ain’t bad.
Van Gundy spent his post-draft press conference both lavishing praise on Kennard’s offensive gifts while heaping an equal amount of scorn at his lack of defensive effort.
We’ll start with the good.
“He’s a skilled guy with a polished offensive game,” Van Gundy said. “He can shoot the ball. He’s got great, great footwork. … He can make plays off the dribble, he can pass the ball.”
That should be music to the ears of many Pistons fans who spent all of last season watching an offense get hopelessly bogged down because there was no secondary ball handler that could pick up some of the slack when Detroit’s point guards were being contained by defenders.
It also might be a surprising assessment for fans who are more familiar with just the superficial analysis of Kennard’s game – mainly as a prolific and deadly 3-point shooter.
“He’s not just a spot up shooter. His game is to play with the ball, come off screens, make plays,” Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy also called Kennard the most offensively skilled wing they saw available in the draft.
Several times Van Gundy compared Kennard to another Duke product with which SVG had more than just a passing familiarity – JJ Redick.
Van Gundy said he compared film of both players first two season at Duke and saw a lot of the same pluses and the same minuses.
And that brings us to the bad news for the moment – Kennard is a straight up bad defender.
To his credit, Van Gundy pulled zero punches.
“He’s got to change his entire defensive approach,” he said. “He’s got to get a lot better and, quite honeslty, he’s got to, in my opinion take a lot more pride in (defense) than he did this past year.”
Again, comparing him to Redick, Van Gundy said playing defense was the only way Kennard would be able to consistently see the floor.
“He’s a competitive guy, he’s played in huge games, he’s made huge shots, you can see it on the floor that he has a great desire to win. Well, what it takes to get on the floor and win is you have to play better defensively.”
With all the harping on defense, several fans might wonder why Van Gundy was willing to take such a flawed player.
Well, Van Gundy said, the truth is almost no college prospect plays good defense. Whether it’s because of the offensive loads or lack of commitment, he said players from No. 1 on down had issues on the defensive side of the ball.
The process of becoming a better defender begins first thing in the morning, Van Gundy said.
“We’ll have that first talk tomorrow.”