Prospect Watch: Duke’s Luke Kennard

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The San Antonio Spurs are currently sitting on a 23-5 record thanks to an incredible 102-100 victory over the Houston Rockets Tuesday night. With a 23-5 record, the Spurs are well on their way to another playoff appearance and that means a nice comfortable drafting spot near the end of the first round.

Every week I put the spotlight on one college player who could end up in the Spurs’ lap and this week’s candidate is Duke’s Luke Kennard. Somehow, the sharp shooter has not moved up past the mid-20s in any mock draft I have seen and he’s even been kept out of a few mocks altogether surprisingly enough.

The 6’6”, 202-pound lefty has greatly improved upon his freshman campaign that saw him thrust into action due to injuries and a serious lack of depth at Duke in the 2015-16 season. This year he has been even better than any of the heralded freshmen in Durham and preseason Player of the Year in teammate Grayson Allen. He’s averaging 20.3 points a game to go with three assists and 5.8 rebounds a game.

While those numbers are pretty nice, these ones might be even better. He’s shooting a scorching 42.3 percent from beyond the arc and 53.2 percent overall despite shooting from every level on the floor; at the rim, in the midrange and from three-point range. There’s a reason he’s the Ohio high school state record holder for most points in a career. And yes, that includes LeBron James.

Not only is he scoring at an incredible rate and leading Duke to victory more often than not, he’s actually playing defense too. He averages about a steal a game and has a nice defensive rating of 89.9. However, he will have to bulk up a bit and get a little faster to be able to defend at the next level.

Kennard has the ability to make tough shots as he’s had to do on several occasions for the Blue Devils thanks to his length and deceptive athleticism. He’s a smart player and would do well under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich, as well as the veteran players on the Spurs. He could be another good Manu Ginobili ‘replacement,’ who’s not quite Gumby-like in the way he gets to the rim, but would be a better and more consistent shot-maker.

Photo: GoDuke.com

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