The Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. They lost in six games, even with an MVP candidate in Russell Westbrook at the helm. Now the Thunder try to find answers on how they can become even better for the 2017-2018 season. The first step comes in the NBA draft next month. OKC has one of the best point guards in the game, but lacks consistent spot up shooters for him to pass to. The number one need for the team going into the NBA Draft is a three-point sniper with the potential to be an all-around scorer. Duke standout Luke Kennard fits the mold.
Kennard excelled in his sophomore season at Duke, leading the team to a 28-9 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Averaging 25.5 minutes a game last season, Kennard averaged 19.5 points on 48.9 percent shooting. He was also very efficient from behind the three-point line, shooting 43.8 percent from deep. He showed an innate ability to score whenever needed for the Blue Devils last season.
He also showed an ability to pass and rebound last season at Duke. He averaged 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He did both of these, while showing he has the ability to not turnover the ball at a high level. OKC does not need another player that turns the ball as Westbrook does it enough for everyone. Kennard has shown during the draft process that he has developed a better all-around game that will translate to the NBA level.
In high school, Kennard was named Mr. Basketball both his junior and senior year. He broke LeBron James’s scoring record in the state of Ohio, averaging 38.1 points per game in his senior season. In his junior season, Kennard averaged 41.0 points per game and was named a Max Preps First-Team All-American.
The Thunder are in the need of some spot up shooters. They can get some through the free agency period but their budget is limited. Luke Kennard looks like the perfect answer for OKC with their 21st overall pick in the first round. While there are other great fits, the Thunder need to seriously consider taking the Duke star. The only question will be whether Kennard will be on the board when it is OKC’s turn to pick.