Wt: 202 pounds
2016-17 Stats: 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists
HOW HE OPERATES
There is value to staying an additional year in college after a freshman season, and Duke’s Luke Kennard is the perfect example of why. The sophomore shooting guard was a vastly improved player in his second season in Durham, N.C. So much so, that he’s positioned himself to be a solid first-round draft pick with the potential to perhaps slide into the late lottery if he wows in individual workouts.
Kennard’s field goal percentage went from 42 percent as a freshman to 49 percent as a sophomore. He improved his 3-point percentage a whopping 12 percent, hitting 43.8 percent of them during his second season. He added eight points to his scoring average and 1.5 rebounds per game to his work on the glass. And Kennard ended the season as the only unanimous selection for All-ACC First Team.
First and foremost, Kennard is a shot maker. His percentages were high across the board, shooting 45 percent or better in spot-ups, off screens, as the ball handler in pick-and-roll, in transition and in hand off plays. Kennard’s game was jump shot-heavy. Jumpers accounted for 64.9 percent of all of his shots and more than half of those were 3-pointers. So improving his percentages was a must. He’s got a quick release, which helped get shots off under duress and with defenders racing out to get a hand up. Kennard’s not going to kill defenses with athleticism, so when he did drive into the lane he stopped for pull up jumpers, or more than likely put up a floater. If he slashed all the way to the rim, it was more out of opportunity. He did not finish well through contact. He did, however, have a good handle, and that handle could get him anywhere he wanted on the court. Proficient with both his left and right hand, Kennard could dribble his way out of trouble and be crafty in getting himself open space to shoot.
In transition, Kennard was best when filling a lane or trailing the play. He was a deadly 3-point shooter in transition threes. The biggest on-court questions he’ll have to answer are: Can he get his own shot and can he finish more consistently?
Defensively, Kennard is a work in progress. He showed good anticipation in jumping passing lanes to get steals, but will look to improve his lateral quickness and defensive stance to stay in front of ball handlers. Duke also did a lot of switching, so getting through screens on a regular basis is something Kennard will have to get used to.
HIS BEST FIT
Luke Kennard’s best fit, certainly early on, will be with a team in which he can be a threat on the weak side of the court. As the recipient of the second or third pass, he’ll be effective in shot-making or getting into a quick pick-and-roll and playmaker as the defense scrambles to rotate out to him.