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Face Off: Luke Kennard vs Donovan Mitchell

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 7:34pm

Once upon a time, both Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell were thought of as bubble first rounders, but both guards have really bolstered their appeal since the NCAA season ended. With the draft less than a week away, Kennard and Mitchell are now regarded as possible late lottery picks who could even sneak into the top 10 selections of the 2017 draft.

Kennard brings elite shooting, good size, and a natural feel for scoring buckets, while Mitchell is a high level athlete whose toughness has GM’s drooling. With this edition of Face Off, we’ll dig in at these two guard prospects that will be highly coveted in that late lottery range this Thursday.

Size and Measurements

Luke Kennard vs. Donovan MitchellLuke Kennard vs. Donovan MitchellKennard and Mitchell both showed up to Chicago this May to take part in the NBA combine this season. With so many high level prospects skipping this event, it’s rare that both guys we’re comparing have measurements from the same pre-draft setting.

Standing 6’5.5’’ in shoes and weighing in at a lean 196 pounds (6.6% body fat), Luke Kennard has almost prototypical height for an NBA shooting guard. Where it gets a little tricky is his below average length. In high level basketball, possessing a wingspan that’s merely equivalent to your height is a rarity, and Luke’s 6’5.5’’ wingspan leaves a lot to be desired. This measurement has a direct correlation into his 8’2.5’’ standing reach, which was the lowest of any player at the combine who was at least 6’5’’ tall.

Donovan Mitchell is almost the polar opposite of Kennard in terms of build. At just 6’2’’ in shoes, Mitchell sports a massive 6’10’’ wingspan which allows his 8’4’’ standing reach to top Kennard’s despite being a full 3.5’’ shorter. Another really impressive number for Donovan is his 211 pound frame, which measures in at only 5.9% body fat. This supports his reputation as an all around athlete and gives him a major advantage in absorbing contact at the next level.

If Donovan Mitchell was a point guard, he’d have elite measurements, but even playing off the ball in the NBA, I feel his length, and powerful build give him the edge over Kennard. The ground he can cover laterally, and his superior strength, paired with only giving up 1.5’’ in terms of a standing reach give him the edge in this category. While Kennard coming in at 6’5.5’’ in shoes is a nice measurement, Mitchell’s total package and far superior length is more relevant than how high the top of Kennard’s head can reach.

Advantage: Donovan Mitchell


Athleticism:


At face level, this may seem like a pretty open and shut case with Mitchell easily taking this category, it’s actually closer than it would originally seem.

Mitchell put on a show at the 2017 combine. His 3.01 second ¾ court sprint was the fastest of anyone that showed up for the athletic testing. Posting a 40.5’’ max vertical, Donovan was also one of only 7 players who topped the elite 40’’ mark. While it’s pretty clear training to bench a lot isn’t particularly at the top of a basketball player’s to do list, Mitchell still pressed 185 ten times at the combine, which is a testament to his natural strength. Elite speed, elite leaping, and a powerful frame with a low body percent fat pretty much gives Donovan Mitchell the total package in terms of athleticism. He’s no joke.

Kennard has a reputation as a scorer, but not really in terms of being overtly athletic. This perception may have started to change after reports surface of Luke Kennard posting a 38.5’’ max vertical during a workout in Los Angeles. That is really impressive and just two inches less than Mitchell’s 40.5’’ measurement in Chicago. Unfortunately, Luke didn’t participate in the testing at the combine. While he may be a good leaper, his lateral quickness, speed and strength is just noticeably at a lower level than Mitchell when you scout them both on the court.

If we had more numbers from Kennard, we could dive in a little deeper. He’s certainly a better leaper than many have thought. Still, Donovan Mitchell is just a high level athlete. All the numbers in the world would just give Kennard the opportunity to try to close the gap.

Advantage: Donovan Mitchell


Scoring Ability

Luke Kennard has had a reputation as a scorer ever since he vaulted Lebron James in the Ohio High School scoring ranks, and after a shaky first season at Duke, he’s quickly reminded everyone of his ability to put the ball in the hoop. During his sophomore season as a Blue Devil, Kennard averaged 19.5 points per game while acting as a primary scoring option even with Jayson Tatum, and Grayson Allen on the court. He nailed 88 threes last year, and has the range to be a threat at the NBA line. Luke is also an above average ball handler, and is adept at moving without the ball in his hands. This kind of versatility will aid him not only in getting his shot off at the NBA ranks, but also in being a weapon coming off screens. In addition, he’s really showed improvement on getting the charity stripe. While only mustering 2.8 free throw attempts as a freshman, Kennard dialed up his aggression and it resulted 5.1 trips to the stripe as a sophomore, where he converted them at an 86% clip.

Donovan Mitchell is another player who paced his team in scoring at a healthy 15.6 points per game. Like Kennard, Mitchell also is a strong outside shooter. Donovan hit 80 threes during his sophomore season at 35% accuracy. While he does have potential as an NBA long range shooter, he doesn’t look to have the same level of initial transition as a three point bomber as Kennard. Donovan is a very good free throw shooter (80%) so his future as a shooter is still bright. One offensive red flag Mitchell has is efficiency. He barely shot over 40% during his sophomore season, and while Rick Pitino’s offense is about the furthest thing from a modern NBA set, it still brings pause regarding his shot selection. Mitchell is a high level physical specimen, but still shot just 55% at the rim against NCAA rim protectors. In comparison, the lanky, less athletic Kennard shot 61% at the rim. This is not a good number for NBA translation, but this is more about improving between the ears than any sort of athletic adjustment.

Donovan Mitchell is a fearless big bucket producer who lead his team in scoring last season. His shot selection was iffy, but he made major strides beyond the three point line. That paired with his nice release and good shooting from the foul line gives him potential as a jump shooter. His real challenge will be taking smarter shots in the half court. Kennard has something that NBA teams crave these days, and that’s deep range. Kennard can step on an NBA court during his first game and provide spacing, plus he’s not just a spot up guy. He’s adept at weaving his way through screens, and can get a shot up off the bounce. Kennard will have to hit the weights, but he’s going to be a threat from day one.

Advantage: Luke Kennard

Defensive Ability:

The defensive side of the ball is never going to be the end that cashes Luke Kennard’s paychecks, but at 6’5.5’’ he’s at least not undersized to guard an NBA shooting guard. During his second season at Duke, he averaged .8 steals and .4 blocks per contest which are not eye popping, but pretty solid. Kennard at least provides effort, has as solid knack for anticipation, and that gives hope that he could eventually be hidden in a good team defensive scheme.

Donovan Mitchell is slightly in between positions on the offensive side of the ball, but defensively he looks like a player capable of handling both points and shooting guards in the NBA. When looking at current NBA rosters, it’s hard not to notice the similarities in size between and another defensive stopper at the next level. Donovan Mitchell is almost the exact same size as Marcus Smart, who now terrorizes his opponent's back courts on a nightly basis. I’m not sure if Donovan Mitchell has that loose screw needed to be an elite defender, but his physical profile gives him loads of potential. At Louisville he averaged 2.1 steals per contest, and flashed that potential as a defender that pairs so well with his size and athleticism. The Cardinals are always defensive stalwarts, and Mitchell’s role for Rick Pitino’s club was a huge asset to his strategy.

Mitchell handily takes this category. His two position versatility paired with his reputation and potential render him a bright future as an NBA defender, while Kennard’s glass half full projection is that he may be adequate enough to blend into a team defensive scheme.

Advantage: Donovan Mitchell

Potential:

Potential in basketball is often twisted into imaging everything that a player is just average or below average at is somehow vaulted into an unattainable stratosphere. It would be easy to do this with Donovan Mitchell and give him the easy edge over Kennard, but I believe Kennard’s shooting and scoring ability alone give him a higher and more directly attainable ceiling.

I feel a realistic expectation of Mitchell’s ceiling would be a multi-positional defender capable of fearlessly hitting big shots, giving some spacing, and possibly acting as your team’s 3rd or 4th leading scorer. On the other head, I feel Kennard could be a 3rd or 2nd option offensively who is among the league’s best in one category, three point shooting. A two way jack of all trades, is a guy who will always have a place on an NBA roster, but an elite specialist will be sought after. With three point shooting, and spacing in such high demand, Luke Kennard is the belle of the ball. He may have a more glaring weakness, in defense, but I feel his ceiling as as shooter takes the edge.

Advantage: Luke Kennard

Kennard’s potential as a marksman, helped propel him to a victory in the scoring and potential category, and could render him a higher ceiling player; however, his floor is probably lower as well. Mitchell’s length and athleticism are the keys to him being a multi positional defender with lockdown capabilities. On offense he’s not nearly advanced as Kennard, but still has a nice foundation as a distance shooter with room to grow. With Donovan Mitchell winning the size, athleticism, and defensive categories, he also rises to the top of this edition of Face Off

dubbmotta
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I don't understand the hype

I don't understand the hype of Mitchell..an undersized SG.

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