POP 2019-20 Season Preview: Starting or Coming Off the Bench, Luke Kennard Crucial to Pistons Success
Luke Kennard has been one of the most talked-about players during training camp for the Detroit Pistons. The coaching staff has been forced to decide whether or not he should start or come off the bench alongside Derrick Rose? Arguably the best three-point shooter on the team, and one of their best ball-handlers, Kennard has the talent of an NBA starter. But the opportunity to be more of an offensive focal point with the second unit is probably a better opinion for him to find his best fit on the team.
Last season, Kennard took a big step within his role on the team. He became more of a playmaker as opposed to just being labeled as a “shooter”. He showcased his ability to handle the responsibility of bringing the ball up the court and help run the offense, in a secondary ballhandling guard role. He also showed that not only could he create a shot for himself, but he could also create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Last postseason’s first-round sweep by the Bucks gave everyone a chance to see a different Luke Kennard. He was more assertive and comfortable in his playing style. In four games against the Bucks, he averaged 15 points per game, 1.8 assists per game, and four rebounds per game, along with a shooting split of 48/60/83. Even with a humbling defeat in a four-game sweep by the Bucks, the Pistons walked away believing they had a serious playmaking threat in Kennard. The problem they needed to solve, however, was where is his ideal fit? Was it with the starters or is it off the bench?
This seems to be a good stressor for Pistons’ Head Coach Dwane Casey, as he has to make a decision on which unit, he should place Kennard with. In an interview with MLive, Casey stated,
“on paper, with the numbers, he doesn’t fit well with the first unit, but he is one of our most talented players”. “He is one of our best 3-point shooters, but I think we take away some of his strengths with the first unit because there’s only so many pick-and-rolls you’re going to be able to have, or ball-handling situations. I don’t know if his strength is spot-up shooting. I think his top strength is his pick-and-roll game. I have to see it play out the next month or so.”
From a basketball standpoint, it would be smarter to place Kennard with the second unit and allow him to share ballhandling duties with Derrick Rose. With those two sharing the floor together, the Pistons could potentially have one of the best scoring backcourts off the bench in the league. The strong possibility of Kennard coming off the bench seemed to excite Rose, based on his comments he made with MLive.
“He’s my younger Kyle Korver; I got a chance to play with a shooter at a young age,” Rose said. “All the shooters I played with in the past were kind of older or it was late in their career. For me to have the opportunity to play with somebody like Luke, it means a lot. I think I can help him grow.” Rose continued to say.
This season will be a big season for Luke, as it seems he will have the opportunity really take his game to another level. He can really make a name for himself and become a prominent piece within the fabric of the organization’s core group as they continue in their pursuit to trend upward. Luke Kennard can be key that will help Detroit get back to the playoffs, and hopefully help the team make it out of the first round.
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