Duke teammate Grayson Allen was happy with the selection:
The Pistons welcomed their newest player:
Pistons guard Reggie Jackson and forward Tobias Harris offered the same treatment to their newest teammate:
Here’s how others reacted to the pick:
A year ago, of course, Kennard wasn’t in the discussion as a potential first-round talent. Frankly, as Duke brought in what was supposed to be an all-time great recruiting class that included the likes of Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, Kennard was something of an afterthought.
Not for long, however.
Kennard was nothing short of superb in the 2016-17 season, averaging 19.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game during his sophomore campaign. More importantly, he shot 48.9 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Thought to be a complementary piece coming into the season, Kennard instead established himself as one of Duke’s leading men alongside Tatum. And he even managed to accomplish one of the rarest feats of all, per Bomani Jones of ESPN: Avoiding the complete ire of non-Duke fans around the country:
The question, then, is whether a player of Kennard‘s skill set—superb shooter, solid scorer, below-average athlete and defender—can go on to have a long and successful career in the NBA.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman believes so, even if he sees a limited ceiling for Kennard:
ESPN’s Jay Bilas is a believer as well, as he told Reid Forgrave of Bleacher Report.
“He’s going to play a long, long time in the NBA,” he noted. “People say, ‘You think he can guard people?’ It’s the same stuff people said about Kyle Korver. On the court, he’s got a swagger to him that good players have to have.”
And a scout told Forgrave that Kennard‘s offensive versatility will serve him well.
“He’s not one-dimensional,” he said. “He’s not just catch-and-shoot. He can put the ball on the floor, drive and finish with either hand. He can spin and do up-and-under. He’s got some toughness, and [he’s] just an outstanding free-throw shooter. He brings an awful lot to the table, but he’s just a special, special shooter. And there aren‘t a lot of those.”
It’s a skill set that Jeff Borzello of ESPN praised as well:
And Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports spotted a bit of an NBA Hall of Famer’s game in Kennard:
Kennard‘s lack of athleticism will likely keep him from ever being a superstar at the NBA level. But there is always a role for perimeter sharpshooters in the NBA, and Kennard‘s ability to not only create his own shot but also work off screens and get open for pull-up jumpers should make him a nice addition to Detroit’s offense.
Add in his feel for the game, and Kennard should be able to carve out an NBA career in the mold of a Korver.
Certainly, Kennard is the type of player the Pistons need. The team shot just 33.0 percent from beyond the arc last season, 28th in the NBA. There is no question that it could use the perimeter scoring and floor spacing that Kennard can provide.
And with the possibility that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope won’t return next season—though it’s likely Detroit will match any offer—Kennard could play a major role for the Pistons next season. Regardless, he should provide quality minutes off the bench immediately.
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