Stan Van Gundy speaks about Luke Kennard’s defense

SUMMIT, NJ - AUGUST 15: Luke Kennard
SUMMIT, NJ - AUGUST 15: Luke Kennard /

After voicing serious concerns about Luke Kennard’s defense on draft night, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has been impressed with his development.

On draft night back in June, Stan Van Gundy expressed serious misgivings about his first round pick Luke Kennard just minutes after making the selection. His defense was supposedly bad enough that it could keep him off the floor for the Detroit Pistons.

This wasn’t something you want to hear about your lottery pick just minutes after his selection, especially when possible star-in-the-making Donovan Mitchell went next to the Utah Jazz.

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Luke Kennard has worked hard to assuage Van Gundy’s concerns, and has impressed since the first practice before the Orlando Summer League. So much so that Van Gundy no longer sees his defense as a significant weakness.

He spoke about Kennard’s quick development on Tuesday after the morning’s practice session.

“Even in summer league, the very first practice, I got this feeling like he was going to be a lot better than I thought defensively and watching for the three weeks, he’s not a below average guy in terms of moving his feet.” Van Gundy continued, “He can move his feet, he’s got decent size, he’s strong, he actually should develop into a good defender and it should be a strength of his as he learns systems and rotations. He should be at least an average if not an above average defender very quickly.”

Kennard does not have an elite wing span, so his ability to move his feet will be beneficial. Since the initial worries immediately after the draft, Kennard has only impressed at each opportunity.

Kennard’s offensive abilities are unmistakable. He was drafted to provide shooting and scoring to an offense among the league’s worst last season. He’s creative with the ball in his hands and able to create his own shot.

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While those are important skills, that doesn’t get you far in the NBA if you can’t defend your position at least passably. From the sounds of things coming out of Detroit Pistons camp, Luke Kennard is ahead of schedule on the defensive end of the ball.