The two lowest-owned players in the top 50 on ESPN’s basic Player Rater are Luke Kennard (19% owned) and Aron Baynes (12.7% owned).
Aron Baynes is a backup center and he’s 32 years old, and he’s only starting because DeAndre Ayton, the Suns starting center, has been suspended until mid-December. Baynes is a solid player, a stretch big who’s never averaged 20 minutes or more during his career. If you have Ayton on your fantasy team, you can do worse than picking up Baynes while Ayton’s out.
It’s the other player I want to talk about, a player named Luke Kennard.
Dukie Lukie (who, yes, is a god damn Blue Devil) is 23 years old, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, and is averaging 16+ Points Per Game, 3+ Assists Per Game, 2+ Rebounds Per Game, and 6+ 3-Point Attempts Per Game. Those numbers may sound pedestrian but only 17 players equaled or exceeded that line last year and ALL of those players were good fantasy players in 2018-19, and ALL of those players are at least 60% owned this year.
17 players are averaging Kennard’s numbers this year, including Kennard. Luke has the third-fewest shot attempts of that group of 17, under 12 FGA per game (78 players are averaging more), but he’s now third in shot attempts per game on the Pistons. Detroit’s down Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson, two of their five starters, to injury. Kennard, who was coming off the bench, is now SECOND in MPG on Detroit. He’s had a 30 point game, a 24 point game, and only one dud game (though, he got 7 assists in that game) this season, along with several solid mid-teens scoring games, and he’s had 4+ assists in four games straight.
Kennard was drafted by Detroit to grow into an outside shooter who could stretch the defense and defend the perimeter. His defense hasn’t materialized into steals or blocks, but his offense in his third year has been solid AF: of the 86 players currently averaging 11+ FGA per game, Kennard has the 18th best True Shooting Percentage (61.7 TS%, tied with Brandon Ingram), and only 7 players had a 61.7+ TS% last season on 11+ shots per game: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Durant, Pascal Siakam, John Collins, and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Kennard’s efficiency is helping to enhance his value, and hopefully this, combined with an opportunity for more minutes and shots, results in more points per game, and an increase in his other counting stats, too. He’s a cheaply acquired top 50 fantasy asset, and he’s a young player who’s growing into the role for which he was drafted. Kennard’s place on the Pistons is clear: he’s a fairly traditional 2-guard, and he’s meant to be a perimeter threat and a perimeter defender. He’s being asked to do more while Blake and RJax are out, and he seems to be rising to the challenge.
Things could fall apart for Kennard, of course, but none of the numbers suggest that; nor does the team’s situation suggest that his role will decrease. He is literally the player the Pistons wanted him to be, and his tandem with Drummond has looked effective so far this season.
To put it another way: only 42 players are averaging 6+ 3PA this season, including Kennard. He has the 13th best 3PT% of that group (43.5).
104 players are averaging 3+ free throws per game, including Kennard. He has the 13th best FT% of that group (91.3).
Duke has a history of producing elite outside shooting guards. Kennard looks like the next one. He’s less owned than Zach Collins, who was averaging 9 and 4 (and, who’s now injured). Kennard has all the makings of a top 75 player, and he’s basically free off of waivers. He’s provided the same fantasy value so far this season as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and SGA is 83.9% owned. Again, Kennard is 19% owned.
Go get yourself a free star.