Raptors should consider Luke Kennard in Draft

Most mock drafts have the Raptors picking a big, but let’s look at Luke Kennard, who has picked up considerable steam recently.

The Duke Blue Devils are back to being dangerous. Grayson Allen may be grabbing all the headlines but his teammate has become the driving force of the team. Luke Kennard is playing himself into the Nation Player of the Year conversation and deservedly so. Currently putting up per game averages of 20 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, Kennard is also moving himself up NBA draft boards. In Chad Ford’s recent NBA Mock Draft, Kennard is projected to go 28th to the Houston Rockets. As an exceptional offensive talent, he could see himself rise even further in the draft before the season is done.

From first glance, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Toronto Raptors to have much interest in a sharpshooting wing with questions surrounding his defensive ability. If certain things go our way come Trade Deadline time (Hello Serge!), we may lose some of our wing depth that we’ve built up over the years. If we send Terrence Ross somewhere else, then it’s safe to assume his spot will be filled with Norman Powell. That leaves Powell’s spot open at the end of the bench for next year. Kennard could definitely be an option for the position.

This guy can shoot

He lacks the athleticism and defensive prowess to be an ideal 3-and-D prospect, but he’s got the “3” down for sure. He’s currently shooting nearly 46% from beyond the NCAA arc, which is significantly closer in. The Ohio native doesn’t shy away from driving and playmaking either, which he proved in Duke’s recent nail-biter against Clemson. His offensive game is really solid and is a NBA level talent on that half of the court.

By far his best attribute though is his footwork and shot release. Spotting up for a three, coming off a screen, or hitting a turnaround jumper, his feet always seem to end up in the same position. Famed 3-point specialists J.J. Reddick, and Kyle Korver similarly have incredible footwork. It took both of those players a few years before they really found their niche. In today’s fast paced, 3-pointer oriented game, Kennard could find a similar role.

Luke’s D isn’t right

As I mentioned earlier, Kennard’s biggest question mark is still his defensive ability. He struggles to stay in good position against collegiate players and often allows dribble penetration. Ironically, that is one of the biggest issues the Raptors have as well so I guess he’ll fit right in. In all seriousness though, fans of Kennard should be very concerned with his defensive upside at the next level. He doesn’t have the quickness or length (6’5”, with an equal wingspan) to make up for his mistakes. At the next level, he could become the target of any opponent’s offensive set. As we know, Dwane Casey isn’t about to play someone who can’t defend.

If the Raptors are able to pull off a blockbuster for the likes of Ibaka or Paul Millsap, then Power Forward may not be our position of need. Instead we could be looking at wings and Luke Kennard could be a great fit. The defensive potential of Kennard could hamper the Raptors’ interest in him, but his offensive skills should translate to the NBA. Someone who can spread the floor like him will find a place in the league, but he is always welcome North of the border.

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