Draft Workouts: Luke Kennard
June 5, 2017 - After his pre-draft workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Duke guard Luke Kennard spoke to Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
June 5, 2017 - After his pre-draft workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Duke guard Luke Kennard spoke to Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
June 5, 2017 - After his pre-draft workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Adelaide guard Terrance Ferguson spoke with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
June 5, 2017 - After his pre-draft workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, California power forward Ivan Rabb spoke to Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
June 5, 2017 - Kentucky forward Edrice "Bam" Adebayo spoke to Pacers.com following his pre-draft workout with Indiana on Monday afternoon.
June 5, 2017 - Virginia guard London Perrantes spoke with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with Indiana.
June 5, 2017 - Miami guard Davon Reed spoke to Pacers.com following his second pre-draft workout with the Indiana Pacers.
Pacers Work Out Several Potential First-Round Picks
Shooters Kennard and Ferguson, Big Men Rabb and Adebayo Headline Loaded Workout Group
The player the Pacers take with the 18th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft very well might have worked out for the team on Monday. Which player that is, however, is anyone's guess.
At their fifth pre-draft workout in preparation for the Draft on June 22, the Blue & Gold welcomed four players projected as first-round picks to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was easily the deepest group of prospects to audition for the Pacers to date.
Kentucky's Edrice "Bam" Adebayo, Duke's Luke Kennard, California's Ivan Rabb, and Terrance Ferguson — a Dallas native who played for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia's National Basketball League rather than attend college — all expect to hear their name called relatively early on draft night. All of them are just one or two years removed from high school and could seemingly fill a need for the Pacers, either by adding size and shooting on the perimeter (Kennard and Ferguson) or depth and rebounding in the post (Adebayo and Rabb).
Even the best mock drafts and draft boards are rarely accurate, as teams will never publicly disclose their true intentions, but they can be helpful in getting a general consensus on when a player is likely to get picked.
One interesting wrinkle to Monday's workout was that it allowed each first-round candidate to match up with another highly regarded player with a similar skill set. While teams can only take away so much from a single workout, these types of matchups can help compare similar players and get a feel for each player's competitiveness.
Two years ago, the Pacers had 19-year-old Myles Turner go head-to-head against Frank Kaminsky, the national player of the year. Turner held his own against the decorated Wisconsin big man, and the Pacers wound up taking him with the 11th overall pick.
Monday's workout had a similar vibe.
"It was real competitive," Kennard said about Monday's workout. "I'm a really competitive player, so I really enjoyed what we did."
Kennard and Ferguson could both be potential fits for the Pacers, who are in the market for bigger guards with an ability to shoot the ball.
Monta Ellis started more games than any other player at shooting guard last season, but Ellis is a smaller guard at 6-3 and a below-average outside shooter (he took less than two 3-pointers per game and converted them at under a 32-percent clip).
As a team, Indiana tied for fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season at 37.6 percent, but took far fewer threes than most of their competition, tying for 23rd in 3-pointers made and ranking 27th in 3-point attempts. In a league where threes are becoming more and more valued, the Pacers need to add more shooters to their arsenal. It's all the more important considering that C.J. Miles, the team's leader in 3-point percentage, will be a free agent this summer.
Both Kennard and Ferguson have good size for their position, measuring out at 6-6 and 6-7, respectively, at last month's NBA Draft Combine. Both also have a reputation as knock-down shooters.
Kennard is coming off a sensational sophomore season at Duke. He was a good player as a freshman, averaging 11.8 points per game for the Blue Devils, showing promise as a shooter with an .889 free-throw percentage, but a little inconsistent from 3-point range with a .320 percentage on 172 attempts from beyond the arc.
On a loaded Duke team that featured preseason All-American Grayson Allen and added a heralded recruiting class including future first-round picks Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles, one might have figured Kennard's role would remain stagnant his second season on campus. Instead, he blossomed into the team's best offensive player, leading the Blue Devils in scoring at 19.5 points per game and shooting a blistering 43.8 percent from 3-point range.
"I think I became more mature as a player," Kennard said. "I think my confidence level has risen since my freshman to sophomore year. I've gotten stronger, smarter, and I've been more consistent. That was one of the big things for my jump freshman to sophomore year, just being a consistent player."
At minimum, Kennard figures to carve out a niche at the next level as a shooter, but he demonstrated an impressive all-around game in college.
After building a reputation as a standout scorer two hours east of Indianapolis in Franklin, Ohio — where he finished his high school career in second place on the state's all-time scoring list, three spots ahead of LeBron James — Kennard showed similar scoring prowess in the ACC. He shot 48.9 percent from the field as a sophomore, driving and creating his own shot off the dribble as often as he spotted up in the corner.
Kennard also rebounded well for his position (5.1 boards per game) and played more of a playmaking role than some realized. He handled the ball a lot in pick-and-roll sets for the Blue Devils, and used his size and court vision to see over the defense and set up teammates, dishing out 2.5 assists per contest. Kennard said he does believe that he could handle the ball at times as a combo guard at the next level.
Kennard, of course, knows the area where scouts wants to see him perform better than he did in college.
"I think one of the big things that I want to show when I come to workouts is my competitiveness and how well I've improved defensively," Kennard said. "My offense will come after that, but one of the big things (for me) is athleticism and working hard on the defensive end."
College basketball fans are no doubt very familiar with Kennard from his time at Duke, but they probably don't know much about Ferguson. That's because Ferguson chose not to attend college — he was committed to Arizona, but instead opted to sign a contract to play professionally in Australia for a year.
Unlike previous players who have taken a similar path, like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay, Ferguson had no eligibility concerns preventing him from attending college. He simply wanted to earn money to help provide for his family and have the opportunity to focus on his basketball development full time while getting a taste of the professional game.
"I'm over there to learn and develop as a person and a player," Ferguson said. "Overall, I learned a lot, especially off the court. Basically just being a professional, taking care of your body, the food you put in your body...I made that transition over there and learned so much in a limited amount of time."
Ferguson did not put up huge numbers for Adelaide, where he averaged 4.6 points in 15.1 minutes per game. But as a young player (he only turned 19 on May 17) playing with grown men, Ferguson was asked to embrace a specific role in the NBL, something that he feels prepared him for the next level.
"In the NBA, you're going to have a role," Ferguson said. "You're not going to go out there and be KD (Kevin Durant) straight away or LeBron right away. You've got to play your role to the best of your ability. My role over there was to go over there and defend my butt off to the best of my ability."
Ferguson described himself as a "defensive maniac" who "can really shoot it." He only converted 31.2 percent of his limited 3-point attempts in Australia, but he has a textbook quick release on his jump shot and should be able to knock down shots consistently in the NBA. Another one of Ferguson's calling cards is his athleticism, as he had a 38-inch vertical at the combine.
Initially, Ferguson would appear tailor-made for a "3-and-D" role, knocking down jumpers on one end and playing tenacious defense on the other, though the hope is that he could develop into a more complete player over the next few years. With a wiry frame, Ferguson is still growing into his body and said he is eager to show more of his playmaking ability during workouts, something he wasn't able to do much in Australia.
Adebayo and Rabb, meanwhile, could be options if the Pacers decide to bolster their depth in the frontcourt.
Nothing is set in stone for next year's big man rotation behind starters Thaddeus Young and Turner.
Al Jefferson got most of the minutes as the backup center, but he's 32 and plays an increasingly outdated style. The Pacers played musical chairs at power forward, shuffling Lavoy Allen, Rakeem Christmas, and Kevin Seraphin in and out of the lineup. Indiana could be in the market for a younger player to develop in the frontcourt, particularly one that can rebound, given that the Pacers were in the bottom five in the NBA in that category last season.
Both Adebayo and Rabb can fill that need. Both demonstrated a knack for coming up with boards in college, particularly on the offensive glass, where both averaged over three rebounds per contest. Overall, Rabb averaged 10.5 boards per game, while Adebayo pulled down 8.0.
Rabb was considered a possible lottery pick after his freshman season at Cal, when he averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds on 61.5 percent shooting, but elected to return to school for another season.
His sophomore season was not a failure by any means — he tallied 17 double-doubles — but Rabb's field goal percentage dipped to 48.4 percent as he dealt with more double teams while being the focal point of the offensive attack.
Still, at 6-10 with a knack for rebounding and a solid array of scoring skills on the block, Rabb can definitely be a rotation player for many years in the NBA. His focus primarily is on the defensive end, showing that he can guard multiple positions in a league where switching screens is becoming more and more prevalent.
"The biggest thing for me I feel was lateral quickness switching onto guards," Rabb said. "I feel like I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I was from my first year to my second year to even now. I've improved so much in that area."
Adebayo, meanwhile, thrived in Kentucky's offensive attack in a limited role. Using his athleticism to get points running the floor or on the offensive glass, the 6-10 forward with a 7-3 wingspan shot just under 60 percent from the field in his lone college season.
Pacers.com's Mark Montieth wrote more extensively on Adebayo's potential, but suffice it to say that he showed in head coach John Calipari's system that he can at least be a player that provides energy off the bench in the NBA.
"Cal always said be a fighter," Adebayo said Monday. "...He said, 'You're not going to play unless you fight. Worry about skill later.'"
Perrantes Hoping Experience at Virginia Earns Him Opportunity in NBA
Also at Monday's workout was London Perrantes, a 6-1 point guard who starred for four years at Virginia, where he is the school's all-time record holder in both starts and games played.
Perrantes initially was a pass-first point guard, but grew into a larger scoring role as other talented players left for the NBA. He scored in double figures in each of his last two seasons for the Cavaliers and was a career 41-percent 3-point shooter over his four seasons in Charlottesville.
Perrantes did not put up huge offensive numbers in coach Tony Bennett's system, which focuses primarily on playing stout defense and controlling the tempo. In workouts, Perrantes said he is eager to show that he can thrive in a higher-pace offense.
"Obviously in Virginia we didn't do too much of that," he said. "And then we didn't do too much pick-and-roll stuff and I feel like that's one of my strengths, just being able to read the floor coming off the pick-and-roll. That's a lot of what the NBA is."
As an undersized guard who spent four years in college, Perrantes may not hear his name called on draft night, but he has the makeup to earn a roster spot as a backup point guard.
One source of inspiration for Perrantes could be his former college teammate Malcolm Brogdon, who went in the second round to Milwaukee last season after four seasons at Virginia, but is now one of the finalists for Rookie of the Year honors. Perrantes said Brogdon "is available at any time" to answer questions and is hoping he can follow a similar path to NBA success.
"Having so much experience at the college level I think is going to help me at the next level," Perrantes said.
Reed Returns for Rare Second Workout
Miami guard Davon Reed worked out for the Pacers two weeks ago on May 22. On Monday, he was back in Indiana for his second workout with the team in two weeks.
It is not unprecedented for the franchise to have the same player in for multiple workouts, though it hasn't happened in a couple years. Back in 2013, Indiana brought both Solomon Hill and Troy Daniels in for two workouts and wound up taking Hill with the 23rd overall selection.
Another candidate for a "3-and-D" role in the NBA, Reed's first workout came against Purdue's Vince Edwards and Xavier's Trevon Bluiett, two players who have since withdrawn from the draft and returned to school, and UCLA's Bryce Alford, a player likely to go undrafted.
On Monday, Reed got the chance to compete against several likely first-round picks, including two at his same position in Kennard and Ferguson.
"I think the competition was a little bit higher," Reed said about his second workout at The Fieldhouse. "No disrespect to the first group, but (there were) a lot of highly regarded players today."
Reed said he thought he performed well two weeks ago, when he was "a dog defensively and did some good things in the pick-and-roll." The team did not give him an exact reason why they brought him back, though he speculated they might have wanted to see how he fared against a higher level of competition.
In his last visit, Reed sat down with Pacers head coach Nate McMillan for an extended interview about his background and goals.
Including his two visits to Indianapolis, he estimates he has already completed eight or nine workouts and has a similar number remaining before the draft.