Quietly slipping below the radar screen of most NBA scouts and mainstream media analysts, D.J. Kennedy
has slowly but surely turned himself into one of the most versatile small forwards in all of college basketball.
A major contributor from the moment he arrived at St. John's, Kennedy has established himself as the most important player on the Red Storm's roster in this, his junior season. He contributes in a wide variety of ways, being their leading scorer (while still maintaining excellent efficiency numbers), their main half-court facilitator and playmaker, a major force on the glass, and the one who is consistently assigned to defend the opposing team's best perimeter player.
From a physical standpoint, Kennedy clearly has the tools to play in the NBA. The lefty has good size at 6-6 to go along with long arms and a chiseled frame, not being a freakishly explosive athlete, but clearly having the fluidity and quickness to translate his game to the next level.
Offensively, Kennedy is not a terribly skilled small forward, but still finds ways to contribute to his team in a variety of different ways. Not much of a shot-creator or off the dribble shooter, he is, as mentioned, his team's main facilitator, a sort of point forward who makes good decisions, directs traffic on the floor and does a great job getting his teammates involved, as evidenced by his high assist numbers--which clearly would be even higher with better talent around him.
He is very effective in transition, where his average handle (particularly driving left) and inability to change directions with the ball aren't as much of an issue, as he can use his pure speed and strength to get to the basket and finish around the rim, while putting him at the free throw line at a pretty nice rate. He also takes a decent amount of 3-pointers (3.8 per game) and knocks them down at a solid 37% clip, despite possessing a somewhat flat and awkward lefty stroke that clearly has plenty of room for improvement.
Perhaps the most notable part about Kennedy's offensive profile is the fact that he has already proven his merit as a willing and very effective role-player, which is exactly what he would have to be in the NBA.
Defensively, Kennedy is already one of the best man to man defenders you'll find in the Big East, showing a very intriguing combination of physical tools, smarts and intensity.
He uses his length extremely well contesting shots on the perimeter, doing an excellent job staying in front of his matchup and looking very intelligent in the way he baits opposing players into taking tough shots over his outstretched arms. Watching his defensive possessions from this season and last, it's impressive to see the way in which he was asked to guard everything from point guards to power forwards for St. John's.
As a rebounder, Kennedy is very productive, hauling down 8.3 boards per-40 minutes pace adjusted, a third of which come on the offensive end. He does a good job coming up with the occasional block or steal, but isn't one to gamble unnecessarily, and commits an obscenely low number of personal fouls, only 16 in 367 minutes all season long, or one every 23 minutes.
Kennedy isn't the type of player who will wow you on first glance with his shot-creating ability or pure talent. What he is is a very fundamentally sound all-around player who should be able to blend in seamlessly with better players around him thanks to the excellent versatility he brings to the table.
If he can find a way to become a true knock-down spot-up shooter by the time he's finished at St. John's, he should be able to find a niche in the NBA, as a Courtney Lee
type jack of all trades.