The Hawks may have the chance to draft one of the top scorers in Ohio high school basketball history. And no, that man’s name is not Lebron James, who Luke Kennard sits above on such list.
Luke Kennard was expected to be more of a role player for Duke this season, but he, alongside Jayson Tatum, carried the Duke Blue Devils this past season while Grayson Allen was too busy throwing temper tantrums. His sophomore campaign saw Kennard make the jump to being one of the best players in college basketball and a potential lottery pick.
Kennard can flat out shoot from all over the court, whether it’s the deep ball, mid range, or at the stripe. He has been well coached by Coach K and would be the perfect remedy for the Hawks’ three point woes this past season. Fans saw how a sharpshooter such as Kyle Korver can keep opposing defenses honest and make life easier for his teammates in Coach Bud’s system. Kennard is also a catch and shoot player who can come off of screens and hit buckets, but he can do so much more off the dribble. He plays a really smooth game and is always making that extra pump fake that throws off defenders. He could be a match made in heaven for the Hawks, and could allow Tim Hardaway Jr. to serve as the Hawks’ sixth man, a role that may better suit him.
Of course, Kennard has some knocks to his game. His wingspan is reason for concern, and he would struggle defensively on most teams. However, Coach Budenholzer has shown time and time again that once players learn his defensive rotations, he can make almost anyone a serviceable defender.
Beyond the physical attributes, Kennard is a smart player, and a winner. Not only could he be the answer to the Hawks’ shooting woes, his ball distribution abilities make him a perfect fit for what the Hawks try to do on offense. He is not a freak athlete like many lottery prospects, but his game could easily translate over to today’s NBA. This makes it hard to really put a ceiling on him.
Kennard has the offensive abilities and intangibles to be successful in the NBA, but his defense is a real concern. Coach Bud emphasizes defense, so it will be a matter of whether the new front office regime thinks he will ever be able to learn his complex rotations that saw Tim Hardaway Jr. take over a year to learn.
That will be the real dealbreaker with Kennard, but the kid can straight ball. You can definitely find knocks, but when the tape rolls a basic eye test will tell you he is a special player. The Hawks value smart players, and Kennard is just that. He would be great for what the Hawks do on offense, though he may not be on the board, and the Hawks could be in the market for a big man.