When a team makes a deal at the trade deadline, there always ends up being a winner and a loser. In the case of the trade that sent Luke Kennard from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Memphis Grizzlies back in February, it's pretty apparent which side cleaned up in this deal. It's only been 16 games, but Kennard is shooting 49.3% from 3-point territory, including an explosive 30-point performance Friday night against the Houston Rockets in which he went 10 of 11 from long range.
Those 10 triples set a Grizzlies record for most 3s made in a game, as well as a career-high for Kennard. He's also just the second player in NBA history to make at least 10 3-pointers without attempting a single 2-pointer, joining Malik Beasley on that list.
"Honestly it feels like every shot I take is gonna go in," Kennard said after the game. "You get nights like that, and credit to my teammates and coaches to get me the ball there when I was starting to feel it a little. It feels really good, not gonna lie."
Kennard's performance Friday night showed on a grand scale just how much of a win this trade was for Memphis. This is a team that ranks 22nd in the league in 3-point percentage and relies heavily upon offensive rebounds and transition play to put points on the board. But Kennard provides them with another surefire deep ball threat alongside Desmond Bane to go to in the halfcourt offense.
While Kennard's an elite spot-up 3-ball threat, he can also score on the move, and be a playmaker when needed. But Friday night was all about his hot hand from beyond the arc, and he showcased his elite ability to move seamlessly without the ball, shaking off several Houston defenders with ease, flying around screens and getting shots off before even getting fully set.
After the game, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins lauded Kennard's performance while speaking about the impact he's had since joining the team.
"What an unbelieveable job," Jenkins said. "Obviously he's coming out talking about how we've been on him, his teammates have been on him about being more aggressive. You see his confidence building one game at a time. Kudos to him and his teammates setting a franchise record as a team and as an individual for us, that's huge. You see the versatility, he's out there knocking down shots, and then he also has three assists. He's competing on defense, this is why we made the trade for him."
Kennard's heater of a night, in which the Grizzlies trounced the Rockets 151-114, also helped clinch a playoff spot for Memphis. With a 46-27 record, the Grizzlies currently sit second in the Western Conference, and while there's still time for them to move a little in those standings, they're for sure headed to the postseason where they'll be a difficult team to beat if Kennard is shooting 3s like he was Friday night.