Charlotte Hornets draft prospects: Luke Kennard vs. Justin Jackson

Feb 9, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) drives against Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) in the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) drives against Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) in the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports /

The Charlotte Hornets 2017 first round selection could possibly come from the Tar Heel state. Two hours away from Buzz City, down Tobacco Road, to be exact.

Luke Kennard of Duke and Justin Jackson of North Carolina are two prospects that can find themselves in Charlotte Hornets‘ jerseys come October. Both were prominent players in the famous Duke-UNC rivalry. Both are scheduled to work out for the team before the June 22nd NBA Draft date, according to Swarm and Sting’s Jerry Stephens.

When looking at the roster, both can fit as an offensive need, capable of spreading the floor with the shooting ability. But the question is, who is the better fit for the Charlotte Hornets?


Kennard and Jackson were battling each other for the ACC Player of the Year last year, with Jackson coming out on top.

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Jackson averaged 17.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in three games against Duke last season. While Kennard averaged 22.6 points and 4.0 rebounds against UNC. Kennard was also more efficient, shooting 53% from the field opposed to Jackson’s 38 shooting percentage.

Kennard and Duke got the best of the Tar Heels as well, winning two of their three matchups, including a victory over North Carolina in the ACC Tournament.

While Jackson got the last laugh by winning the National Championship, give the nod to Kennard in their head-to-head matchups.


The two prospect are without a doubt offensive players. Both were looked at as go-to scorers on their teams and getting buckets is their most translatable skill to the pro game. Their method to getting buckets is the same as well: shooting the three ball.

Starting with Kennard, the Blue Devil shot 43% from three last season. Kennard can do it spotting up, as a ball handler pulling up or coming off screens. In addition, Kennard has a quick trigger, which makes it more difficult for defenders to contest his shot. Look below, while uncontested, at Kennard’s stroke from three.

Jackson drastically improved as a shooter in his final season at North Carolina. In his junior season, Jackson knocked down 37% from three, opposed to 29% in his sophomore season. The Tar Heel is a more off-the-ball, coming off screens or spotting up from three.

The difference between the two prospects is Kennard’s ability to create his own shot. Kennard is crafty, able to pump fake or use his footwork to get around defenders, while Jackson struggles in traffic.

But, there’s much more to offense than just shooting. When Jackson is able to create, he uses a floater to get his shot off. Kennard, on the other hand, gets to the rim and draws contact, as he averaged five free throw attempts last season. Both are equal at playmaking, with Jackson averaging 2.8 assists per game and Kennard averaging 2.5.



This is where it gets interesting. Both players aren’t stoppers by any means. Just last season, Jackson averaged 1.8 defensive win shares, while Kennard averaged 1.6 defensive win shares. Both averaged less than one block and steal per game.

But looking at the measurables, it’s Jackson that projects to be the better defender at the next level. Standing at 6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan, the UNC product has the height and length to guard shooting guards and/or small forwards. Kennard has the classic case of white guy syndrome, with a 6-5 height and wingspan.

Jackson is also quicker than Kennard, so he’s able to stay in front of defenders. Given his length as well, he can contest shot better as well. Kennard doesn’t show much energy or effort on defense either. On the other hand, Jackson stepped up his defensive effort down the title stretch for North Carolina.



Both would be a welcomed addition by fans to Charlotte. DraftExpress has the Hornets taking Kennard at No. 11. Looking at both players, neither would start in year one, given Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist holding down the starting wing positions.

Offensively, Kennard is more equipped for the NBA with his ability to create his own shot and quick shooting trigger. But Jackson isn’t far behind. Kennard is also a year younger than Jackson and has a little more time to develop. Jackson is better defensively and physically better for the NBA than Kennard.

But is Jackson a finished product? How can he improve at the NBA level? The same question arises for Kennard as well. Given his athletic limitations, is he just a shooter at the pro level, or can his craftiness carve out more of an offensive role?

Next: Trade up possibilities for Charlotte

For Charlotte in the future, Jackson would be the better option. His two-way ability is better than Kennard’s and he’s isn’t far behind the Blue Devil offensively. Both will likely have similar roles as shooters in the NBA.

Add that Michael Jordan is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.