Pistons

Why a Rumored Kennard Trade Makes Sense for Detroit

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It seems that over the last month every player on the Pistons has been mentioned in trade rumors, and just after midnight it broke that Luke Kennard was the next name on the list. Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the bomb that Detroit was discussing a deal centered around Kennard with the Phoenix Suns.  Many on Pistons Twitter found this appalling, as they have become attached to Kennard in his short career. However, this move makes a lot of sense for a team entering a rebuild and is not as bad as fans are making it out to be.

The Offer

The reported package coming back to the Pistons would be a pair of second-year guards in Jevon Carter and Elie Okobo, as well as a first round pick.  Luke Kennard has been undoubtedly better than these players and something else would need to occur given the Pistons’ lack of roster space.  That being said, this is not a bad return in any regard.  Especially if it is unprotected, first round picks from lottery-bound teams are hard to come by.  While this draft is widely regarded as weaker than most, having the projected 7th and 11th picks for a team diving into a rebuild is invaluable.  No one would have guessed Sekou Doumbouya would be available at 15 last year.

 

Elie Okobo is particularly interesting for this Pistons team, especially in reference to Doumbouya. Okobo only plays 12.9 minutes per game, but he has shown flashes so far.  His per-100-possession numbers would be a nice addition: 15.5 points, 5.7 boards, 7.8 assists with two blocks/steals.  This obviously may not translate, but the stats nothing to scoff at.  This team has been looking for point guard prospects for quite a while and the potential is there.  Two bites at the apple with Carter make this a nice swing to take for a team tanking.  Furthermore, Okobo is another former member of the French National Team and could help the transition of Doumbouya to the league.  For similar reasons why the Pistons would have been interested in Frank Ntilikina, Okobo makes a lot of sense.

Looking at Luke

Kennard is a fan favorite, which always makes move like this tougher.  He has taken steps forward in production each year as he has gotten more opportunities, jumping up to nearly 16 points per game this season before going out with knee tendinitis, which is the real reason we are here.  Kennard has had knee issues dating back to the 2018 Summer League that caused him to miss some time, and now the persistent tendinitis is certainly a red flag.  Kennard played in 73 games in his first season before only getting 63 last year and 28 this season.  Tendinitis is unlikely to completely go away and Kennard is eligible for a rookie contract extension as soon as this fall.  The price for the young shooter is soon to go up with question marks surrounding his health.

While Kennard has truly developed as a playmaker over a short period of time, availability is often the best ability.  Especially for a roster that has been torn apart by injuries the fact that Luke is already dealing with a chronic issue is distressing.

Looking in the Mirror

Fans have a tendency to overrate their own players.  It is understandable.  They watch all the games and feel as if they are watching the younger guys grow up.  That being said, what is the realistic ceiling for Luke Kennard’s game?  The reactions of the vocal Twitter fans would have you believe it is a perennial All-Star.  Realistically Luke Kennard profiles as a top tier bench scorer and playmaker.  If this is the case, look at recent history: how many of them net an unprotected first round pick from a lottery-bound squad? Those are few and far between.  Taking a swing on a couple of young prospects is what happens when you are tanking and rebuilding.

Tough Realizations

The hardest thing to accept about this is that rebuild season may be officially underway.  When that happens many players, even some promising prospects, see themselves moved on for assets so the team can truly build for the future.  The Lakers did it, moving on from D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle as they built up their young core.  Philadelphia famously jettisoned Jahlil Okafor, Michael-Carter Williams, Nerlens Noel and Markelle Fultz to varying results.  None of the rebuilding process is particularly fun, outside of games like the Denver win this weekend where the young guys shined.

This process is going to take more than the next three months.  Many fan favorites will likely be sent out over the next couple of seasons as the Front Office continues to build around Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk and Bruce Brown, the current young core.  This will not be easy.  But that is what makes the winning in the future worth it.

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About Corey Rausch

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