May 17, 2022

Tyronn Lue: Luke Kennard would ‘do great’ in 3-point contest

View Original Notice ? Tyronn Lue: Luke Kennard would ‘do great’ in 3-point contest

Brian Bales, Luke Kennard’s former basketball coach at Franklin High School in Ohio, offered a suggestion Wednesday that bordered on a dare:  “Put that man in the 3-point contest!”

Tyronn Lue, Kennard’s current coach with the Clippers said Friday that he agreed: “He’d do great.”

The NBA will stage its 3-point contest as part of All-Star Weekend festivities on Saturday, Feb. 19, in Cleveland.

That’s about 3½ hours from Franklin, where Kennard twice was an Ohio Mr. Basketball winner as well as the Parade National Player of the Year as a senior – when he shot 49% from the 3-point line (100 for 204) and earned an invitation to compete in the 3-point shootout ahead of the McDonald’s All American Boys Basketball Game.

Kennard won that event, beating a field of finalists that included current Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson and former Chicago Bulls guard Antonio Blakeney.

There are no specific rules about how the NBA fills out its 3-point contest field, but Kennard entered Friday’s game in Miami with the fourth-best 3-point shooting percentage in the league, hitting his treys at a 43.9% clip. He had drained 111 of his 253 attempts – including the two wild and timely ones in the final nine seconds of the Clippers’ improbable, franchise-record 35-point comeback victory Tuesday in Washington.

Entering Friday’s game, the lefty shooter’s rate of success from behind the arc put him behind only Miami’s PJ Tucker (46.9% on 128 attempts), Houston’s Eric Gordon (44.5% on 211) and San Antonio’s Kelvin Johnson (44.2% on 211).

An invite to participate in All-Star weekend could go a long way for the Clippers’ most dangerous long-ball threat, Lue said.

“For sure, if he goes and he’s able to do it, I think to win a 3-point shooting contest would give him a lot more confidence coming back to the team,” Lue said of the Clippers’ current franchise leader: Kennard’s 44.2% 3-point shooting percentage in his 103-game Clippers tenure entering Friday ranks first in franchise history, slightly ahead of JJ Redick’s 44% in his four seasons with the team.

“We stay on Luke about turning down shots,” said Lue, with a nod to the Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, whom he was to face Friday. “I learn a lot from Spo, what he did to Duncan Robinson (a 3-point contest participant in 2020). Every time he turned down a shot, they’ll take him out of the game. So (Kennard’s) job is to shoot the basketball, and if he’s turning down shots, it’s going to be tough for him to really be on the floor. So we need him taking those shots.”



Entering play in Miami, backup center Isaiah Hartenstein was shooting 50% from behind the arc.

That is to say: He was 2 for 4 – with one of those misses a too-strong attempt as the Clippers were clawing back in Tuesday’s 116-115 victory over the Wizards.

But Hartenstein believes 3-point shooting can be a useful part of his game; he took 143 3-pointers during his G League appearances for the Rio Grand Grande Valley Vipers – with a 28.7% success rate.

And the Clippers’ assistant coaches believe it too, and they’ve told Lue so.

“Jay Larranaga, B-Shaw (Brian Shaw) and LD (Larry Drew) keep telling me he can make 3s, that pregame, he shoots 19 out of 25,” Lue said this week. “So I told him, late in the shot clock, when he pops, if he has a chance to take a good look, he can shoot it.

“(Tuesday’s) wasn’t a good first audition though, I’ll tell you that,” Lue said with a forgiving chuckle. “We’ll let him keep taking them and hopefully he can start knocking them down.”

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