Luke Kennard NBA Draft Profile


Luke Kennard, Sophomore, Guard, Duke



Coming into this season, Luke Kennard’s role at Duke was relatively unknown. With Grayson Allen returning as preseason ACC Player of the Year, veterans Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson in the fold and high profile recruits like Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson joining the team, Kennard was going to have to fight to earn minutes. However, with early season injuries giving Kennard the opportunity to see ample playing time, he solidified himself as one of the best players in the entire ACC. He went on to start every game but one and scored 19.5 points per game. He also played well enough to raise his NBA Draft stock into first round territory.

Kennard’s most NBA-ready skill is his jump shot. He shot a scorching 43.8% from three this season on 5.4 attempts per game. He can get his jumper off in a mixture of ways. He shoots it at a high rate while set, pulling up off the dribble and on the move coming around screens. Kennard moves without the ball extremely well, always improving his chances to get open catch and shoot opportunities. He can also create space off the dribble, toying with defenders closing out on him. He likes utilizing shot fakes to get past the defender, then either pulling up from mid-range or stepping back for an open three. Kennard should have no trouble adjusting to NBA range. He has textbook shot mechanics with a quick release that wastes no motion, and he shot 87% from the free-throw line while at Duke.

Standing 6-5, Kennard has good size for an NBA guard. What he lacks in length and bulk he makes up for with his skill level and basketball IQ. Kennard isn’t particularly quick or explosive with the ball, but he’s crafty and has a knack for getting to his spots on the floor. His physical shortcomings force him to play mostly below the rim. He struggles to finish in traffic or over length. When he does maneuver his way into the paint, he uses a variety of moves to get shots up. He has difficulty getting all the way to the rim, but he uses ball fakes and spin moves with proficiency to create space. He has soft touch on his floaters and uses step-backs to get shots off. He’s naturally right-handed, but uses his left hand to shoot the basketball which gives him ambidexterity on the court.

With Duke lacking a true point guard, Kennard had to create much of his offense on his own. NBA teams will love his potential to play as a combo guard. Kennard can run the pick and roll as a ball handler. He has the ability to split defenders, drive past switches, pass over the top or hit a pull-up jumper. He doesn’t have a quick first step, but he has the craftiness and instincts to use screens to his advantage. He’s a smart passer who can drive and kick out to shooters at the right times. He makes the easy, smart passes within the flow of the offense.

Kennard’s defensive flaws will be his biggest weakness at the next level. He has the undesirable combination of having poor lateral quickness along the perimeter and lacking strength to defend the paint. Too often his intensity and focus on the defensive end of the floor is lousy. With his high offensive usage at Duke, Kennard used most defensive possessions to relax. He gets caught ball watching, often getting beat on back-door cuts. He’s also not a strong rebounder and got hardly any steals or blocks. His coach will have to hide him on defense, making it vital for Kennard to be effective offensively to earn playing time.


Final Projection:

Luke Kennard was one of the most dynamic scorers in the nation while at Duke. He doesn’t have an NBA-caliber physical profile or elite athleticism, but he uses his savviness and instincts to score with high efficiency. Kennard’s jump shot is his most polished skill, but he’s much more than just a shooter. He’s capable of running an offense and can be a weapon in the pick and roll. Kennard’s lack of athleticism will be a cause for concern. It is fair to question if his craftiness will work going against longer, more athletic players in the NBA. He’s also a major liability on defense, making his offensive production that much more important.