Dwane Casey explains why it’s difficult for him to start Luke Kennard
Keith Langlois of Pistons.com recently caught up with Dwane Casey. In the interview, the Detroit Pistons head coach Casey talked extensively about Luke Kennard’s role with the team this upcoming 2019-20 season, especially with their depth at guard.
No question and that’s the key – keeping the balance for both units. The issue with Luke in the first unit – it’s not an issue, it’s a good thing – but it’s just you kind of take away one of his strengths as far as his pick-and-roll game, his ballhandling game. There’s only so many pick-and-roll games with that first unit. You’ve got Blake in the pick and roll, Reggie in the pick and roll, you’ve got Bruce running pick and roll some and now you’ve got Andre bringing the ball down the floor with the DHOs. But like I’ve said, winning time, last five minutes of the game, you need all those shooters and Luke is by far one of our better shooters so that’s when you really judge. Not whose name gets announced in the starting five. He’s a huge part of our team with his ballhandling and decision making. We’ll re-evaluate it this year and see how it goes, what fits, who we need with the first unit, who we need with the second unit. To me, there’s no honor to say I’m going to start. As long as you’re getting minutes, you’re closing games, that shows more of the value to the team than to say you’re a starter.
As mentioned in the interview, there has been plenty of talk on keeping Bruce Brown in the starting lineup due to his defensive ability. That would mean Kennard would continue to have a bench role with Detroit this season.
However, as Casey discussed, perhaps Kennard might be best suited coming off the bench, due to his ability to handle the basketball and play the pick-and-roll.
The Pistons offense runs through All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Likewise, starting point guard Reggie Jackson and new addition Derrick Rose should handle the ball a lot for them. With their abundance in playmakers, perhaps Kennard might not have enough opportunities to showcase his own skills.
Nevertheless, Kennard is arguably Detroit’s best perimeter threat and his three-point shooting is something that the rest of the Pistons guards lack. He should see plenty of minutes just on that basis. With the way the game is played nowadays, having a floor-spacer like Kennard is a must in any kind of offensive system.
In 63 games last season (53 off the bench), Kennard averaged 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists nightly, while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from deep across 22.8 minutes per game.