DETROIT, MICH. - The Detroit Pistons are the worst shooting team in the NBA.
Enter arguably the NBA draft’s shooter.
The Pistons used the 12th pick of the 2017 NBA draft tonight to select Duke shooting guard Luke Kennard.
A more athletic option – Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell was on the board – but Pistons president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy opted for the better shooter.
“I’m a very poised player,” Kennard told reporters this week at media availability before the draft.
“I’m very calm and I’m able to change pace really well. I think that can be very effective. I’m pretty crafty when it comes to different things, like being in the lane or just creating my own shot. Just being a playmaker and being able to known down shots.”
With the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers currently in the third year of their death grips on the NBA Finals, teams are trying to figure out ways to catch up.
More: Luke Kennard scouting report: Meet the newest Detroit Piston
That’s a lot easier said than done, but one potential way could be to add shooting. The Warriors and Cavs are two of the top three shooting teams in the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs, another heavyweight, finished first in the regular season.
The Pistons were the worst shooting team in the league last season, finishing 28th in three-point shooting (33%) and dead last in true shooting percentage.
Kennard offers promise as more than a shooter. He’s a skilled player with the ability to score off the catch and off the bounce.
He’s 6-5, he has solid size for a shooting guard.
He averaged of 19.5 points and shot nearly 44% from three-point range. Kennard averaged more than five free throws per game, an impressive number of attempts.
Kennard, 20, joins an organization that’s coming off a down season.
After a 44-38 season and competitive four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs, the Pistons were expected to build on that success.
But Reggie Jackson’s sore left knee forced him to miss the first 21 games.
When he returned, he was a diminished and the Pistons suffered from the down season of their most important offensive player.
There is some energy around the franchise because it is moving to downtown Detroit to play in Little Caesars Arena after spending nearly 30 years at the Palace of Auburn Hills in northern Oakland County.
Before the draft, Pistons president Stan Van Gundy described a draft board broken down into separate tiers.
There is a top tier – guys probably like Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson.
Then there was the next tier.
And that’s where Kennard comes in. He leaves Duke after two seasons.
But there are defensive concerns.
“I think one of the big things for me is that I just need to work on my strength,” Kennard said before the draft. “I think that will help me on both offense and defense. And one thing is just wanting to guard and being competitive. I’m a really competitive player, and I think that’s going to help me with that specific skill."
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.
© Detroit Free Press