The Indiana Pacers were the 4th best team in terms of three point percentage last season in the NBA. However, they attempted the 4th fewest amount of three point tries.
The Pacers have good perimeter shooters, just not enough of them. And with the possibility of both C.J. Miles and Paul George (the team’s two best three point shooters) leaving the Pacers soon, Kevin Pritchard will have to add shooters to the roster.
Enter Duke Blue Devil shooting guard Luke Kennard.
Quick fun fact: In high school basketball, Kennard (2nd all-time) surpassed LeBron James (5th all-time) in career points in the state of Ohio.
The Ohio native’s offensive abilities certainly translated to the college level as he is known as one of the best shooters (and offensive talents overall) in college basketball.
The team that adds the 6’6” 196 lb. shooting guard to their roster on the night of June 22nd will immediately improve their offense. Kennard averaged 19.5 points on 43.8% from three and 52.7% from two point range.
He was also extremely efficient on the offensive end as he posted a 24.4 player efficiency rating and true shooting percentage of 63.0%. Kennard was second to only North Carolina’s Justin Jackson in ACC points.
Yet, Kennard can do more than shoot from the perimeter. Although he is no freak athlete, the 20-year-old (almost 21) sophomore can take his defender off the dribble or take advantage of shorter players in the post.
The silky smooth lefty is so effective because he can beat you in multiple ways. If you leave him too much space, he’ll bury the jumper. If you play him too tight, he may pump fake and go right around you. He can handle the ball, too. Kennard’s shooting ability coupled with his high basketball IQ makes him a valuable pick and roll asset.
For a comprehensive breakdown of where Luke Kennard excels, here is DraftExpress.com’s scouting video.
While the talented scorer shines on the offensive end, he struggles defensively at times.
He posted a defensive box plus-minus of +1.2, but numbers do not tell the whole story. Kennard lacks lateral quickness, which allows his opponent to drive around him. Unfortunately, Kennard’s 6’5” wingspan and 196 lb. frame is not enough to make up for his slow lateral speed.
The 20-year-old is also more finesse than physical. On the defensive end, he struggles to fight through screens, which will be exposed during his time in the NBA if he does not improve.
Here is DraftExpress.com’s comprehensive scouting video on Kennard’s weaknesses.
Kennard’s offensive ability is undeniably great, but his poor defense hurts his draft stock. In mock drafts, Kennard is all over the place. Many have the Duke Blue Devil going before the Pacers 18th overall selection. Some have Kennard as a lottery pick, and some have him available for the Pacers at 18.
Luke Kennard’s scoring ability is great value at 18, but I would personally prefer to select a player with higher defensive upside. Nonetheless, the 20-year-old prospect would improve the Pacers perimeter shooting and offense, which could definitely use some help.
The 2017 NBA Draft is June 22nd at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.