Pistons will experiment with Luke Kennard at point guard

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Luke Kennard averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 20.0 minutes over 73 games in his rookie campaign for the Detroit Pistons this past season.

Although those numbers don’t exactly stand out, it’s important to note that the former Duke Blue Devil shot 41.5 percent from three-point range and enjoyed a production surge with increased playing time at the end of the season.

In fact, the 6’5”, 22-year-old lefty went off in the last three games of the regular season.

On April 8 against the Memphis Grizzlies, he dropped 18 points and had three boards and four assists in 32 minutes. In that game, he went 6-of-12 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from three-point range.

Then, he went 7-of-13 from the field (3-for-6 from three) for 20 points with seven rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes against the Toronto Raptors a day later before closing out the season with 23 points (on 8-of-14 shooting, 3-of-6 from deep), five rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes against the Chicago Bulls on April 11.

Therefore, he closed on the right note.

Now under coach Dwane Casey, it remains to be seen what Kennard’s role will be in the 2018-2019 season. To make things even more confusing, the Pistons announced that Kennard would miss the team’s entire Summer League schedule due to a minor knee injury.

However, Casey’s plans for him might already be set in stone.

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Just like Toronto

Per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Casey plans on developing Kennard as a playmaker at the point guard position. In fact, they planned to use him at the point in the Summer League before he got injured.

Although he hasn’t played point since high school, it appears as though he’s ready for the challenge.

“I’m comfortable with it,” Kennard said after the Pistons’ Thursday practice. “I’ve been working a lot throughout the offseason on my handle, creating plays off pick-and-rolls. Just having the ball in my hands a little more. … I’m all for it. I’m excited that they have the confidence in me to do that. If they feel that’s the right thing for me and our team, I’m there for it.”

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Although Reggie Jackson will likely start at the point, Kennard will likely benefit from Casey’s coaching strategy. With the Toronto Raptors, he loved to employ three-guard lineups and consistently played Kyle Kowry, DeMar DeRozan and Fred VanVleet alongside each other late in games.

“The way we want to play, we want to have multiple ballhandlers anyway,” Casey said. “If you watch the way we played (in Toronto), where DeMar DeRozan handled the ball, Luke will handle the ball. Reggie will handle the ball, Blake will handle the ball. It’s equal-opportunity offense. We want everybody to be able to handle the ball, make good decisions with the basketball, make good passes off the penetration with the basketball — it’s all inclusive. … Everybody’s a quasi-point guard in the way we want to play.”

Although Kennard’s playmaking skills will be featured, it’s important for Casey and the coaching staff to remember how efficient he was as a shooter last season.

Alongside Jackson, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, the other two starters in Detroit’s starting five are seemingly up for grabs. Judging by Casey’s comments, Kennard is probably in the running for one of the two spots.

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