Summer League was always going to be Lonzo’s show. Whether it was the bright lights of Vegas, the appeal of the Lakers or his publicity-savvy father, Lonzo Ball was going to generate headlines. Joining him in wowing fans were Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Dennis Smith Jr of the Dallas Mavericks.
However, away from the Las Vegas strip in a sparsely populated gym in Orlando fellow rookie Luke Kennard had a little showcase of his own. He averaged 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game while also hitting 47.8 percent of his 3-pointers.
While there wasn’t much talk of Kennard on TV or on your Twitter timeline, several NBA observers who were re-evaluating the draft class and ranking SL performances took notice.
10. Luke Kennard — Detroit Pistons
Luke Kennard was one of the few rookies who only got to ball out in Orlando. Most of his fellow classmates played in Las Vegas, in addition to the four teams that played in Utah. With a smooth jumper and an underrated handle, Kennard showed a lot of promise.
He was the seventh leading scorer at 17.2 points per game and showed an ability to hit NBA threes.
For large stretches of Orlando Summer League, no one could guard him. Nothing worked. The Detroit Pistons need playmaking and shooting this year, which is exactly what they’re getting from Kennard.
9. Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons
The 17.2 points and 46.5-percent shooting in Orlando made sure Kennard would not be overlooked about the same time the Pistons traded for Avery Bradley and pulled the qualifying offer for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Instantly showing why he was considered one of the best deep threats in the draft, Kennard also made 47.8 percent (11 of 23) of his attempts behind the arc. The Pistons were not in Las Vegas.
12. Detroit Pistons: Luke Kennard
O’Connor: I like OG, but Luke Kennard is still the man for the Pistons, especially with Donovan Mitchell far off the board. Kennard looked like he belonged at the Orlando summer league, and he seems to have tightened his handle since the end of his season at Duke. Kennard gets compared a lot to J.J. Redick, but I think there’s a chance he’s the next Manu Ginobili.
Kennard moves so fluidly with the ball in his hands. He can hit high-degree-of-difficulty shots, and he has an underrated knack for passing. Defense will be an issue for Kennard.
Tjarks: KOC is out here living his best life and comparing Kennard to Manu. I love it. Kennard is really skilled, and he might be able to run some point in the future. That said, when I make the Manu comp, I think of an elite athlete who can live at the free throw line and get wherever he wants to go on the court against elite defenders. I think of a guy like R.J. Barrett, the Canadian teenager whom I profiled this week who just upset Team USA at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
8. Luke Kennard (Detroit Pistons, SG)
Stats (five games): 17.2 points, 2.4 assists, 46.5 percent FG, 47.8 percent 3PT
Luke Kennard only played in the Orlando league, but he was nonetheless impressive, looking just as comfortable scoring as he did at Duke.
He saved his best for last with a 24-point game against the Dallas Mavericks, making 9-of-15 shots and all three of his triples.
Throughout the week, Kennard showcased his crafty offensive skills with tight ball-handling, passing, footwork and difficult shot-making ability. He also canned 47.8 percent of his 23 three-point attempts, drawing attention to his pure stroke and quick release.
Proving he can play adequate defense against NBA wings will be the key to earning consistent rookie minutes, but Kennard looks ready to come off the bench, knock down jumpers and move the ball.