AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Pistons drafted Duke guard Luke Kennard with the 12th overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.
Kennard turned pro after averaging 19.5 points a game during his sophomore season. He was the second Duke player picked in the draft after Jayson Tatum went to Boston at No. 3.
Detroit missed the playoffs last season after making it in 2016, and the tandem the Pistons have built around — Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson — has a lot to prove going forward. Kennard could give Detroit some help offensively — he shot 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range in 2016-17.
The Pistons shot only 33 percent from beyond the arc as a team last season.
Detroit is coming off a disappointing season as it prepares to move to a new downtown arena in 2017-18. This pick — near the back of the lottery — probably won’t add too much buzz, but the Pistons could use a significant contribution from Kennard.
Their last two first-round picks — Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson — haven’t turned into standouts yet. Ellenson played in only 19 games for the Pistons as a rookie.
Kennard’s shooting ability is enticing for a team that needs more perimeter threats. The question is whether he can defend well enough at the NBA level. The 6-foot-6 Kennard, who turns 21 on Saturday, made at least one 3-pointer in 40 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Duke history.