Detroit Pistons guard Luke Kennard is no Donovan Mitchell; but the narrative that the Pistons drafted a bust needs to stop.
Luke Kennard had a solid rookie season. He averaged 7.6 points per game in 20 minutes per game and helped the Pistons with one of their biggest flaws coming into the season: 3 point shooting.
Last season, the team shot 33 percent from 3.
That ranked them 28th best in the league.
Going into the off-season, Stan Van Gundy knew in order to win more games the Pistons would need to rank higher than 28th.
The team had the 12th pick in the draft, and selected sharp shooter Luke Kennard.
In Kennard’s sophomore year at Duke, he shot 44 percent from 3. Fast forward to the end of the season and Kennard shot 41 percent from 3; that ranked the team 5th in the league at 37.3 percent.
You look at his impact and can’t help yourself to think, “Why is Kennard getting a ton of heat from fans?”
Well the Pistons passed on Utah Jazz superstar, Donovan Mitchell, who went one pick later to the Utah Jazz.
Although it’s a huge draft mistake, Kennard has shown that he’s got the ability to be a great player going forward, despite not being Donovan Mitchell.
As a normal NBA fan, there has been many comparisons on Kennard’s game since he was drafted to the end of the season. The most common comparisons are Kyle Singler, J.J. Reddick, and Kyle Korver. And to make things worse there has been fans naming Kennard a bust even after a solid rookie season.
To compare one of the worst draft mistakes in Darko Milicic to rookie guard Luke Kennard is unfair and a terrible comparison. Milicic failed to ever reach his potential and never really displayed any of it.
Kennard has displayed his potential as a lethal 3 point shooter, but I don’t think all Kennard will ever be is a shooter like Korver, Singler, and Reddick.
Kennard has shown that he is more than just a shooter; his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim has been surprising to the normal NBA fan who hardly heard about Kennard.
Kennard took 465 shot attempts in his entire rookie season. 270 of those shots were inside the 3 point arc. He shot 46 percent in those attempts.
To compare, Kyle Korver attempted 327 shots in his rookie season. 120 of them were inside the 3 point arc and he shot 28 percent in those attempts.
He’s also shown an ability of being a ball handler. In the months of February, March, and April, Kennard averaged 2.3 APG on 24 minutes while only committing 0.9 turnovers a game.
Kennard finished off the season with three excellent games starting for the injured Reggie Bullock. In the last three games as a starter, Kennard averaged 20.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.7 APG, on 54 percent shooting, and 62.5 percent from 3. This shows huge amount of potential as Kennard displayed his wide variety of skill while shooting the ball extremely well.
Yes, the Pistons did pass on Mitchell.
Yes, Mitchell is the better player.
But Kennard has shown his potential as a player in this league. He’s shown that he can become an important piece to come for the Pistons in solid play time.