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Clippers vs. Spurs Preview: How will Luke Kennard continue to grow?

The sharp-shooter has been making it rain.

Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

First JJ Reddick, now Luke Kennard.

Love them or hate them, Duke’s world-renowned basketball program and coaching staff have gifted the Clippers with a couple of three-point snipers.

While one is enjoying time off in retirement, recollecting past memories in his podcast The Old Man and the Three, the other is still dropping buckets in tight shooting sleeves and compression tights.

Fortunately, in Clipper colors.

And just the way the former Clippers number four has always done, Kennard has stayed hot from long range.

In last night’s heartbreaking loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cool Hand Luke posted a season-high 27 points, draining 7 of 13 three-point attempts.

Last game was just the icing on top of his sweet last five games: he’s averaging 18.2 points and shooting an impressive 45 percent from behind the arc.

That’s not to say his season, as a whole, hasn’t been anything less than spectacular. He’s logging a career-high 45.7 percent from three and playing more and more as he did in Piston colors — in his short third season for Motor City, he put up 15.8 points and 4.1 assists per contest.

Give credit to Tyronn Lue.

Now giving Kennard a bigger role in the starting lineup, the veteran coach, it seems like, has given just one task: shooting the three-ball.

And shooting it well, of course.

Kennard, in turn, has been scoring 72.3 percent of his points from downtown, a significant increase from last season’s 57.7 percent.

Whether it’d be through Lue’s continued embracing of giving up a good shot for the better shot or the team’s improved ball movement, the Clippers shooting guard has been able to do a lot without really doing a lot.

That is, he’s been draining big shot after big shot without having to dribble his way around five guys or take ridiculous step-backs over defenders, hence 96.5 percent of his three-pointers made have been assisted catch-and-shoot shots (another increase from last year’s 80 percent).

Especially with superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the bench, it will be interesting to see how Lue continues to exploit Kennard to punish opponents’ weak perimeter defense — the way he’s always done.

Kennard and the Clippers won’t be met by much three-point shooting from their opponents next game, though. The San Antonio Spurs are taking just 29.5 three-pointers per contest (30th in the league). The league’s leader in three-point attempts, the Utah Jazz, for reference, is putting up more than 42 every game. Even my varsity high school team puts up 36 per game.

Also to the Clippers’ favor, the Spurs, although coached under the prudence of a highly-esteemed Greg Popovich, struggle to stymie their opponents, especially from three-point range: they allow 36.9 percent of their opponents’ three-point attempts to fall (fourth-worst in the league).

The three will be key for the injury-plagued Clippers.


Game Information

When: Monday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. PT

Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

How to watch/listen: ESPN, Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN radio

Opposing perspective: Pounding the Rock

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Justice Winslow, Ivica Zubac

Spurs: Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Jakob Poeltl

Injuries/Absences

Clippers: Serge Ibaka — PROBABLE; Paul George — QUESTIONABLE; Marcus Morris Sr., Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT

Spurs: Zach Collins, Josh Primo, Joe Wieskamp, Devontae Cacok, Doug McDermott — Out


This post will serve as the game thread. Enjoy the game, and comment below.