Thursday night the Pistons added Luke Kennard with the 12th overall pick. It wasn’t a particularly surprising pick with all the perceived top tier players off the board, but there have still been a lot of questions on if it was the right pick. Many Pistons fans point to Donovan Mitchell, who was drafted one pick later, as the guy the Pistons should have taken. I’m here to tell you why those people are wrong.
First, let’s look at the overall talent. In this area, these two are pretty close to equal. Mitchell is a long and athletic defender who has a decent offensive game. Kennard is the other end of the spectrum as an elite shooter who can score with great skill. Will Mitchell ever be the scorer that Kennard is? No, probably not. Will Kennard ever be able to defend like Mitchell? Unlikely. So while these two are very different players, there about equal in terms of their overall talent. Where Kennard separates himself for the Pistons is his fit with what the team desperately needs.
We all know the Pistons struggled from beyond the arc last season, ranking as one of the worst three point shooting teams in the NBA. This just so happens to be Kennard’s greatest strength. He shot an incredible 44 percent from three last season, which was far better than Mitchell’s 35 percent. This is to say that Kennard adds a shooting dimension that no other Pistons player, including what Mitchell could have brought to the table, has to offer.
Elite shooting is something no one could offer Detroit except Kennard. The same cannot be said about Mitchell’s skill set. In fact, the Pistons already have a primarily defensive wing to guard shooting guards and small forwards. That guy is Stanley Johnson.
Johnson was praised for many of the sane reasons Mitchell was coming into the draft. Decent shooting ability, being a strong defender, and having nearly a seven foot wingspan. Actually, Johnson had a better three point shooting percentage and a longer wingspan than Mitchell coming into the draft. Bottom line, Johnson is a more talented and more experienced version of Mitchell. So what sense does it really make to add a guy to sit behind Stanley Johnson as opposed to a guy who can come in and add something that the team desperately needs?
So yes, it’s fair to look at Mitchell and say that he’s going to be a really good player. He may even turn out to be a better player than Kennard, really it’s impossible to say at this point. What I can say with full confidence is that Kennard was the right pick for the Pistons. His shooting and overall scoring ability is something special that Detroit wasn’t going to find anywhere else. He’s the instant impact player that can help them win now, which I’m not sure you can say about Mitchell.
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