Luke Kennard and the cost of shooting in the NBA

The NBA market for free agents is constantly evolving and constantly changing. One year we may see centers get a huge amount because of how good their peers are. In another year, we might see 3D-aware wings get the proverbial bag.

But what happened nearly a year ago was really eye-opening. Shooting took center stage. If you are a scorer above average by three points, you will get a great reward for it.

Keep in mind that the following contracts were awarded between November 2020 and August 2021:

☞ Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards): Re-signed Five years and $80 million On November 20, 2020. Final year $16.0M player option for 2024-25. Bertans was coming off a career best year as he averaged 15.4 points and shot 42.4% in 3 seconds. Last February, after 15 months of his relationship with Washington, the Wizards shipped him to Dallas in a package that brought them Christaps Porzings. Since getting the contract, Bertans has averaged 8.5 points while shooting at 37.4% in 3 seconds.

☞ Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat): Re-signed Five years and $90 million on August 2, 2021. Final year is $19.9 million player option in 2025-26. Robinson was out of a two-year race averaging 13.3 points while sinking 42.7% of his 3s. Unfortunately, Robinson backed down somewhat in the first year of his new deal. He averaged 10.9 points and tied 37.2% of triples. Having started in 68 regular season games, Robinson had made the decision not to play-coach (DNP-CD) in three of his last four post-season games, and he had not started any of the seven games he saw.

☞ Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets): Re-signed Four years and $75 million On November 20, 2020. The deal is fully guaranteed for all four years. It will run through 2023-24. News of Bertans and Harris’ re-signing broke within eight minutes of each other. In the first year of his new deal, Harris led the NBA by 3 percentage points, cashing in 47.5% of his attempts in 2020-21 averaging 14.1 points per game. Sadly, Harris’ 2021-22 campaign was a losing streak. He played his first 14 games, averaging 11.3 points on a 46.6% 3-pointer, before being out for the rest of the year with an ankle injury he has since undergone surgery. When healthy, Harris is arguably the best shooter in the league, having netted 45% of the hat-trick over the past five seasons.

☞ Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta Hawks): Signing a contract Four years and $72 million On November 24, 2020. Final year is $18.0 million player option in 2023-24. Bogdanovich was a restricted free agent at the time, and the Sacramento Kings eventually refused to match the Atlanta bid sheet. Bogdanovic averaged 16.4 points and scored 43.8% of the three points in the first year of the deal as the Hawks made their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. 2021-22 was less kind as his points dropped to 15.1 and his shot dropped from 3 points to 36.8%. Bogdanovic scored 29 points in Game 2 against Miami but managed to score 28 points in the other games of that series before missing Match 5 due to knee soreness.

That brings us to Luke Kennard of the Los Angeles Clippers, a 25-year-old former lottery player the team earned by trade on the night of the November draw in 2020. Kennard was fresh on his best statistical season in the league averaging 15.8 points, 4.1 assists assists and 3.5 rebounds in 32.9 minutes per game over the course of 28 competitions. His season was cut short due to hamstringitis.

Detroit chose to go a different route, and instead of paying him as his extension date neared, they dealt with him in Los Angeles. One month after getting it, the Clippers had to decide whether to offer Luke Kennard an extension or risk him hitting a restricted free agency in the upcoming off season. They chose the extension route, even before seeing him appear in the game.

kenard agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with incentives that could be worth up to $64 million. The final year, which comes in 2024-25, is actually a $15.4 million team option. Kennard’s extension didn’t start until the 2021-22 season, which means he played the 2020-21 season under the final year of his rookie deal.

If you compare this deal to the one above, it comes linked to Bogdanovich and Harris in years, which means it’s a year less than that of Bertans and Robinson. It’s also the deal with the least guaranteed money, and even if Kennard does meet his incentives, the $64 million he’ll get will be about $10 million less than the next closest player. Moreover, it is a file Just The contract in which the team retains an option for the last year. In the contracts of Bertans, Bogdanovic and Robinson, the player has the option.

Like it or not, these five players have likely been linked together for a while due to the contracts they signed and the archetypes they are. So, why not see how they’ve performed since starting their trades?

Kennard has played the fewest matches, i.e. because he was one of two players who have seen their deal start this season. The other player to start his deal this year, Duncan Robinson, has played 79 out of 82 matches for his team and thus has led everyone in the percentage of team games he has played. Joe Harris, who has played in just 83 out of 154 games since re-signing with Brooklyn, brought up the back of this division.

But for Kennard in particular, there is reason for more optimism. Of those five players, he’s basically been halfway in points, rebounds and assists per 36 minutes, but ranks second in 3 points and 3 points in catch-and-take percentage, only behind Harris.

Granted, Kennard didn’t take 3 seconds per 36 like his contemporaries, but his output didn’t wane regardless. And when adjusting to his age, there is reason to believe Kennard could improve his game overall in the coming years. Kennard, 25, is three years younger than the nearest player, who also happens to be Robinson.

Last season, the Clippers gave Kennard more agency and freedom of action. He responded by rewarding that confidence with his best full season in the league. His final year in Detroit was, as previously mentioned, the peak of his career in terms of points, but he scored only 28 games. This season he played 70.

Not only has Kennard’s 1919 minutes played this season, his most played in a single season, but the most in nearly 500 minutes. In total, Kennard saw the third-highest minute over the Clippers this season. Deal with the extra offensive workload, the absences of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and the defensive rise he’s shown, and you can get a better understanding of Kennard’s growth as a player.

While Kennard missed the team’s two games due to a right hamstring injury, an injury that occurred in the regular season final when Kennard was knocked down by Oklahoma City’s Jaylene Howard in the late third quarter as the two went on to rebound, he could not take less than what he was capable of. .

As it stands now, Kennard has more 30secs with the Clippers than he did with the Pistons, and he has done so in 31 fewer games and in exactly as many attempts (647). Much of the credit for that goes to Kennard himself, and some should go to coach Tyronn Lue, as Lawrence Frank, Clippers’ head of basketball operations, highlighted during the media availability at the end of the season in mid-April.

“Ty has done an incredible job unlocking different parts of Luke,” Frank said. “I’ve seen Luke play off the ball, and before that with Luke, he was there a couple of years ago when he was in Detroit they were thinking about making him a back-up, and he’s got a really good decision – making capabilities, so I see his progress I thought he’s really good.”

Kennard, the Clippers’ all-time leader in the 3-point ratio among players to attempt at least 500 three-pointers, has shown a steady increase in playmaking ability and a penchant for being a second-side attacker and builder when defenses have to shut them down hard on him. It allowed Kennard to get into the defensive teeth and make plays for others, or even for himself as a mid-range shooter.

What awaits Kennard is a very exciting 2022-23 season, assuming, of course, that the team chooses not to deal with him this season at the peak of his value. After all, Kennard has led the league by 3 points this season, and teams are always in the market for a shot. But so are clippers. The value he brings is likely to have more impact on the Clippers than any other team.

With George and Leonard back next season at or near their full strength, Kennard should see an incredible blessing in the quality of looks he’s going to have. For a guy who was already so efficient in his short stint in LA, there’s nothing he can do even when given a cleaner look.

The growth he has shown under the guidance of Lue and the player development team headed by Shaun Fein is something that should give people confidence in his ability to move forward. Kennard is a hardworking worker, lifting a canoe load of bullets when shooting nearby and training in an effort to hone his craft. The work ethic of this group should match the good stuff. This shooting touch, a skill that grew to be of value beyond most quantifiable metrics, got him to thrust like a host of others.

However, unlike some others who have earned huge salaries, the Clippers don’t seem to come to regret the day they paid so much for the shooting. Not when the guy who pushed them performs like this and has so much left in the tank to offer.


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