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Luke Kennard’s Time To Shine

Injuries are also opportunities

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Florida State v Duke
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 25: Luke Kennard #5 reacts with Marshall Plumlee #40 of the Duke Blue Devils after drawing a charging foul against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 25, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 80-65.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

One of the big themes of the presason has been Duke’s depth. This has recently been supplanted by a concern with Duke’s injuries. Harry Giles and Sean Obi are still getting over knee issues, Jayson Tatum has a sprain and in the first exhibition game Matt Jones tweaked his hamstring and Grayson Allen injured his shoulder.

Allen left the court after his initial injury then came back to play and injured it again.

That’s a lot of early injuries though presumably Tatum will be back shortly and we’d be surprised if Jones and Allen aren’t back for this Friday’s exhibition game against Augustana. Then again it wouldn’t surprise us if they were held out either if the injuries have lingered.

Whatever happens, the game goes on. Fans can fuss about an injury but coaches have to adjust. For Duke, that means Luke Kennard gets to step up.

Kennard has been on a tear. He scored 44 points in a scrimmage and 30 against a very physical Virginia State.

Last year, he was somewhat erratic, something you can say about most freshmen. He scored 30 against Notre Dame and followed that up with 0 against Syracuse.

He averaged 26.7 mpg but had three games where he was held scoreless and two where he managed just two points. For a guy who scored 2,997 points in high school, he didn’t shoot threes all that well, managing just 32%. That was just fifth on the team behind Allen (41.7%), Jones (41.5%), Brandon Ingram (41%) and Derryck Thornton (32.5%).

His potential was pretty obvious though and now we’re seeing more of it.

He has a knack for something that we saw in Ricky Price and most recently Jahlil Okafor: he can do a tremendous amount of work in a very small space.

It’s going to be fun to see how he develops this season. One thing is for sure: Luke Kennard has no trouble scoring.

It’s great to have options.