The Detroit Pistons selected Luke Kennard with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Kennard, a 6’6 shooting guard from Duke University, grew up only three hours from Detroit in Franklin, Ohio.
During his 2016-17 sophomore season at Duke, Kennard averaged 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 35.5 minutes per game. He shot 52.5 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from behind the arc. His excellent play earned him Consensus second-team All-American, First-team All-ACC, and ACC Tournament MVP honors.
Kennard is best known for his three-point shooting and shooting in general, as he was voted by fellow rookies as the best shooter in the draft. However, during the Orlando Summer League, the twenty-one-year-old demonstrated that he is a versatile shot maker and an above average playmaker. Kennard’s great use of semi-fakes and jab steps allowed him to create space off-the-dribble thus leading to layups, shots, and assists. In five games, Kennard averaged 17.2 points, 2.4 assists, and 4.2 rebounds.
During his rookie year, Kennard will have to fight for backup minutes at shooting guard (behind starter Avery Bradley) against Langston Galloway and Reggie Bullock. Historically, SVG does not play rookies too much but he has stated on several occasions that he is impressed with Luke. However, do not look for SVG to play Kennard just to develop him. Stan is on the hot seat this season and needs to make the playoffs. So, in other words, the best player will play.
The obvious comparison to Kennard is J.J. Redick. During Redick’s rookie season under SVG in Orlando, he averaged 14.8 minutes of playing time but only played in 42 games. I would expect Luke to see a similar fate in his rookie year. For example, Henry Ellenson only played in 19 games his rookie season because of the logjam at power forward.
Kennard’s primary role will be to space the floor, move without the ball, and to come off screens/pin downs. In other words, SVG drafted him to be a spot-up shooter. However, to a much lesser degree, he will be expected to score in the PNR as well. Defensively, he will be overwhelmed and will need help from Andre Drummond and company. That said, Luke is a “systems guy” that should fit well into an SVG Offense/Defense. But he will not be able to have his way like he did in the Summer League. The NBA is on a completely different level but Kennard should be able to flirt with double-digit scoring on some nights if he can shoot efficiently and not get embarrassed defensively.
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