Luke Kennard’s 2020-2021 Campaign is Critical for His Future

Image: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Three years ago, the Detroit Pistons drafted shooting guard Luke Kennard out of Duke University. Kennard was picked ahead of guys such as Donavan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Kuzma, and OG Anunoby. Although Kennard doesn’t have the accolades of Mitchell and Adebayo or the championships of Kuzma and Anunoby, he has been a solid rotational player for the Pistons over the past three seasons. However, the 2020-21 NBA season could be a make or break season for Kennard and his tenure in Detroit. 

Kennard has been a key to the Pistons’ rotation the past three seasons, mainly because of his ability to shoot the three-ball and create for himself. Over the past three years, Kennard has averaged 9.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on 44.1/40.2/86.3 shooting splits in 23.3 minutes per night. Efficiency wise, Kennard has been really solid for Detroit. However, he was not really a part of the starting lineup until last season, where he started 25 of the 28 games he played in, missing the last 38 games due to bilateral knee tendonitis. Before exiting the 2019-20 season with that knee injury, Kennard was having a career year, averaging 15.8 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds on efficient 44.2/39.9/89.3 shooting splits in 32.9 minutes a night.

Due to his productive start to the year, Kennard’s name was being shopped around during the 2020 trade deadline. His name was rumored in a deal between the Pistons and the Phoenix Suns where the Pistons would send Kennard to Phoenix for Elie Okobo, Jevon Carter, and a first-round pick.

However, talks ended when the sides could not come to an agreement.

With trade rumors in the past and the Pistons in full rebuild mode, it’s time for Detroit to figure out what they want to do with the 24-year-old sharpshooter. Kennard has shown that he is a viable scoring option, but he has continued to struggle to guard NBA wings. Detroit has to sit down and think, “What do we want out of Kennard?” Do they want him to turn into a pure sharpshooter who comes off down screens? Do they want to make him a number one scoring option? Will his defense ever improve? There are so many things Detroit has to look at with him.

Not only does Detroit have to think about what they want out of Kennard, but they also have to figure out whether or not they want to pay him this upcoming offseason. Kennard is up for an extension and could also become a restricted free agent and could command $12-15 million dollars a year depending on the type of year he has in 2020-21. If Detroit does not want to pay him that much, they are better off seeking a trade partner, rather than letting him walk in unrestricted free agency like they did with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a few years prior.

It will be interesting to see what kind of year Kennard has in 2020-21 and whether or not he can stay healthy. If he does, the Pistons’ front-office could find themselves in a pickle.

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