A month into the NBA season, the Detroit Pistons’ Luke Kennard has been a huge standout, and it’s no question that he’s a super early candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year.
A former Duke star, everyone knew Kennard could hoop, but how his game would translate to the NBA was up in the air.
Three seasons in, it’s beginning to look like that it is all coming together.
During his two years under Mike Krzyzewski, Kennard was known for his ability to put the ball in the basket, and he was touted as one of the best guards in his class.
While the results didn’t bear fruit immediately, his scoring ability has truly come to light 13 games into the 2019-20 NBA season.
The three-year guard is producing career highs in all major categories and when it comes to scoring the ball, he’s putting on a clinic.
Kennard is averaging 17.8 points per game, an 8.1 point increase from the year prior.
Kennard has worked on his game tremendously to become more of a threat especially off of the dribble.
This improvement in his game has presented him more minutes and more responsibility offensively. More has been asked of Kennard due to the injury of starting Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson, and he has responded well.
The table above displays the jump in Kennard’s usage. As you can see, the ball is in his hands more often and the jump to 4.2 points in the paint shows he’s being aggressive and benefitting off of these looks.
Dwane Casey has put Kennard in a lot of pick and rolls, a scenario in which he’s been very successful.
Kennard is averaging about 5.4 pick and rolls per game and on these possessions he’s scoring 5.9 points on 52.1% from the field. His improvements in creating off of pick and rolls, as well as handoffs, have been incredible.
Kennard has never been known as a guy who could create a lot of space for himself as a ball handler. A big question mark on his game coming out of Duke was whether he would be able to get his shot off at the professional level.
He has shown a great ability to read the defense and determine whether to drive, float it, pull up, or dish the ball.
The biggest bright spot of Kennard’s evolution is his playmaking ability. He’s not only getting buckets for himself but the Duke guard is creating opportunities for others.
His assist average is up to 4.2 assists per game a significant jump from 1.8 assists last year.
Best part about a ball-handling Luke Kennard is that the defense must account for the entire court, he will find you if you're open. It should come as no surprise that he's accurate with both hands too: pic.twitter.com/Xh4ZhG1scc
— Mike Snyder (@M_James_Snyder) November 11, 2019
Kennard is not only getting his own shot but he’s getting his teammates the ball as well. This wasn’t something that was asked much of Kennard during his time at Duke. He was looked at as a primary scorer and he has grown this part of his game over the years.
He’s not only making the obvious plays but he’s hitting cross-court passes and secondary reads after his first option is taken away.
The growth in Kennard’s game is apparent. While his team is struggling, at the bottom of the Central Division, Kennard is making the most of the moment.
He’s not just a shooter but more of a player that you have to respect all aspects of his game.