Luke Kennard Has Built A Living On The Three Point Line

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(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Contract extensions in the NBA can send fans into a euphoric glee or into a deep despair. Whether it's an extension, a veteran minimum, or a super-max contract, fans are going to feel a certain way and will be quick to jump to conclusions. The problem with having a visceral reaction to your favorite teams signing a certain player is simply that you’re not clairvoyant. The future is unpredictable, and the impact a new player has on a team isn’t clear until he steps on the floor. This exact scenario arose when Luke Kennard signed a four year, $64 million extension with the Los Angeles Clippers. Fans were puzzled to say the least, and didn’t understand what Kennard had done to earn the deal. But with a little hindsight now two years into the deal, Kennard has more than lived up to his extension. 

Coming out of a blue-chip program like Duke, Luke Kennard was undeniably NBA ready by the time he was selected 12th overall in 2017 by the Detroit Pistons. At this time the Pistons were still fairly competitive, led at the time by a solid young core of Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson (Harris and Jackson were then traded for Blake Griffin at the 2018 trade deadline). Although the Pistons didn’t achieve much on-court success outside of a brief postseason appearance in 2019, Kennard established himself as a lethal shooter and role player. After a subdued first two seasons playing off of Drummond and later Griffin, Kennard had a breakout season in 2020 as he gradually assumed a bigger role. Before injuries and COVID derailed Detroit’s season, Kennard averaged 15.8 points and 4.1 assists per game. As a result of this strong season, the Clippers traded for Kennard that off-season and rewarded him with a big contract extension before he even stepped on the court for them. 

Now in his second season for the Clippers, Kennard has continued to be a flame-thrower on the perimeter. While he somewhat struggled in his first season, he’s now returned to his sharp-shooting ways; knocking down 44.8 percent of his 6.1 threes per game, Kennard is the most accurate high-volume three-point shooter in the league this year. Fittingly, Kennard’s incredible shooting marks landed him an invite to this year's three-point contest, where he fell just short in the championship round and finished second overall in the competition. 

The return of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is looming in the background of the Clippers season, but the most consistent aspect of this Clippers team has been Luke Kennard. Turning himself into one of the most reliable and lethal 3-pt specialists, Kennard has undoubtedly deserved the extension he signed in 2020. Get used to the name Luke Kennard, because he will be ranking amongst the best shooters in the NBA for years to come.

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