2018-2019 POP Season Preview: Shoot the Ball, Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard shot 44.3 percent from the field and a super efficient 41.5 percent from the 3-point line last season. One of the most effective scorers on the Pistons’ roster, Kennard enjoyed a promising rookie season with Detroit. Yet in his sporadic minutes played under Stan Van Gundy, I found myself talking to the TV when he was on the floor, begging him to shoot the ball when he finally had it in his hands.
Kennard averaged just 6.4 shots in 20 minutes per game last season. In a more expanded role this year, while likely still coming off the bench, Kennard will need to shoot the ball more, a task that should not be too challenging for one of the best shooters in the league. At 22 years old, he has a well versed offensive game. He can handle the basketball, facilitate for others, and create for himself while being the outside shooter that he is.
Kennard’s style of play fits right into the way Dwane Casey wants to play, a reason to believe he will thrive this year.
In the preseason, Detroit’s offense had tendencies to become stagnant and at times struggled to find a good shot within the offense. Last year, Kennard showed that his quick trigger can be somewhat of a solution for issues such as those.
When not launching from deep, Kennard wiggles his way to the basket, and while as cliche as it may sound, is very crafty and finishing inside.
In this play below, Kennard drives to the basket and uses an array of moves, a spin, ball fake, another spin, and shot fake, before going up for the turnaround shot. It takes a little extra work for him because he is not as quick or athletic as others, to get the shot off, but he is able to get to the rim and be a threat to score.
Another way Kennard scores the ball is through his off-ball movement, a specialty of his.
Detroit has assembled a frontcourt filled with excellent passers which allows them to run sets that drag the bigs out of the paint opening up the rim for the likes of Kennard and Reggie Bullock.
Here, Zaza Pachulia is able to thread the needle to Kennard who slashes at a wide-open basket for the easy two points.
He must improve on the defensive end, but his growth on that side of the floor will likely be limited because of his lack of size and previously mentioned shortcomings athletically.
Kennard is the most exciting prospect on Detroit’s roster for now. While Stanley Johnson still has a bevy of potential, a shroud of uncertainty remains if he will ever unlock that potential. After such an impressive rookie season, Kennard has overtaken that title.
It appears that Kennard will spearhead Detroit’s second unit with Ish Smith and Glenn Robinson III along with whoever else Dwane Casey decides to roll with off the bench (most likely Langston Galloway and Zaza Pachulia).
Luke Kennard can no longer be held back by Stan Van Gundy, and that is a problem for the rest of the league.
Featured Image: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports