Luke Kennard’s 2017-18 season outlook

ORLANDO, FL - JULY 6: Luke Kennard
ORLANDO, FL - JULY 6: Luke Kennard /

In our series of season outlooks for the players on the 2017-18 Detroit Pistons roster, we’ll run through expectations for each. Next up is Luke Kennard.

Luke Kennard will start the 2017-18 season for the Detroit Pistons with moderate expectations, but their future flexibility could be reliant upon him exceeding those quickly. When the Pistons drafted the 6’6″ rookie 12th out of Duke, the plan was to lock up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope long term and allow him to develop at a pace reasonable to expect out of a late-lottery pick.

Thanks to a stunning series of moves, the Pistons ended up letting KCP walk for nothing and traded Marcus Morris to the Boston Celtics for Avery Bradley. While Bradley is an upgrade on both ends of the floor at the shooting guard spot, he’s also two years older and expects to get a pay day next season that could exceed the number KCP was planning on getting with the Pistons.

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This means that an exceptional season out of Kennard could enable them to move on from Bradley next summer, or at least have some additional leverage. If Bradley’s camp knows the Pistons have no choice but to pay him whatever he demands, the organization has little choice. But if Kennard stands out as a rookie, it could be a beneficial leverage point, and it may soften the blow if the Pistons offer Bradley what he wants but he walks anyway.

Obviously the likely path is for the Pistons to pay up and for Bradley to hopefully stay, but Kennard could be a good insurance policy at worst.

Kennard was drafted to be more than a spot-up shooter. While he fits the stereotype of a white shooter who waits for the ball in the corners, he’s comfortable with the ball in his hands and is able to create for himself and others off the dribble. His athleticism may be wanting at the NBA level in order to create like he did in college, but he has craft and an awareness that belies his 21 years of age.

In his sophomore season at Duke, he scored 19.5 points per game and shot 49 percent from the floor. He also shot almost 44 percent from the three-point line and got to the free throw line five times per game.

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Kennard will likely fill the role of third-string shooting guard behind Bradley and Langston Galloway, but he may also be called upon in some configurations later in the season to run the point for the Detroit Pistons.