Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky doesn’t fit the mold of most NBA draft lottery prospects.
He’s not an explosive athlete and there’s nothing electrifying about his style of play. he’s a senior who turns 22 in April, so he’ll be 23 before he finishes his freshman year. and he comes from a program that is not known for sending players to the association (only six since 2000).
Reading: Will frank kaminsky get drafted
then why is he considered a lottery pick, maybe even a top 10 pick?
because frank “the tank” is so good.
Even though he’s 7ft tall, there aren’t many abilities he can’t tackle. Kaminsky’s footwork, outside shooting, passing awareness and defensive instincts make him as unique a prospect as you’ll find in college.
however, he wasn’t always an unmissable kid. Featured programs didn’t flock to recruit him at Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois, and he spent nearly all of his freshman and sophomore campaigns in Wisconsin paying his dues at the bank.
Things are very different now. During the Badgers’ opening game of the NCAA Tournament against the Carolina Coast, he delivered his latest masterpiece in a series of clinics on the versatility of the greats.
His 27 points were made up of a combination of 3-pointers, layups, postups and free throws. Kaminsky also controlled the cup (12 rebounds), dished out four assists and committed zero fouls.
This wasn’t just a fortuitous performance against a middling team. He does this kind of damage against almost everyone: 17 points and nine boards against Duke, 31 points and eight boards against Michigan State, 20 points against Ohio State.
Thanks to his height, post movement and fluidity, he’s a tough cover when he catches the ball near the basket. he can score with either hand and has body control to pivot, adjust to the defender and use the glass to perfection.
watch his footwork and lane prowess here, as he scores despite being sent multiple defenders by canters:
from the perimeter, kaminsky is just as deadly, if not more so.
During his first two years at Madison, he averaged no more than 11 minutes per game, so we didn’t see his jump shot developing. As a junior in 2013-14, he turned heads with 37 3-pointers at a rate of 37.8 percent.
This season, he’s been even more efficient, shooting 40.7 percent of his 3s. Kaminsky also has a good touch on mid-range shots, shooting 49 percent of his 2-point jump shots, according to hoop-math.com.
A look at his 2014-15 shooting chart indicates he can fill the rim from just about anywhere on the floor.
more importantly, it shows that he prefers to shoot a higher volume of shots from productive areas: the paint and beyond the arc.
We must not underestimate the value of having a 7 foot foot that can space the floor. Kaminsky’s ability to intermittently get out on the perimeter has allowed Wisconsin cutters and slashers to split opposing defenses.
Watch how his mere presence forces the Michigan State greats to stay close to the arc, creating post-ups and cuts for his teammates:
The same thing can and will happen with your NBA teammates.
but will his pro team sacrifice a lot on the boards and defense with kaminsky at center? well, he doesn’t project to dominate in those departments, but he has enough length and agility to hold his own.
He’s only grabbing 9.9 boards per 40 minutes, which is partly a reflection of his unspectacular athleticism and physique compared to other greats. however, his low total is also due to the time he spends on the perimeter, which reduces his chances of offensive rebounds. When it comes to defensive rebounding, he does very well, posting a solid 25.5 percent, according to basketball-reference.com.
As a defender, Kaminsky has become a cautious rim protector. he moves his feet well, alters shots and blocks 1.9 attempts every 40 minutes.
The best part is that he commits only 1.9 fouls per 40 minutes, an outstanding block-to-foul ratio. Using his length, discipline, and precision over time, he is able to redirect opponents’ incursions without crashing into them.
Sports Illustrated’s David Gardner explained that while Kaminsky is occasionally outplayed by powerful centers, he is valuable because he has the footwork to play off the rim: “The bigger post players can push him back in the paint, but he’s adept at protecting switches away from the basket.”
how does all this translate in the nba?
let’s not let our appreciation for his college supremacy overstate the nba’s projections. he’s not going to be a superstar, and he’s not going to be the standout weapon of an offense.
But at his best, he could be a second or third choice on your roster. he’ll feast on pick-and-pops and sprinkle a healthy dose of post-ups against favorable matchups. Kaminsky will play well with the star of his team, and you can expect efficient production in his first year or two in the league.
comparisons to brad miller aren’t too far off as he’ll also be a fluid big man from the inside out who gets 13-15 points and six-eight rebounds in his prime. Kaminsky will also be more lethal from the ground from 3-pointers, since he will take more 3-pointers and make a higher percentage of them (Miller shot 33 percent from deep on his run).
wisconsin coach bo ryan is naturally going to be biased, but he offers that the late-blooming kaminsky is still improving and will continue to expand his game. “He has learned things and has been able to go to the next level of learning,” he told Jeff Arnold about the New York Times. “where some guys can get to a point where they plateau, frank is still getting better.”
Most importantly, it will give your coach a lot of flexibility and streamline the offense of whatever lineup he’s a part of.
That kind of size, versatility and polish make it a no-brainer towards the end of the 2015 lottery.
daniel o’brien covers the nba draft for the bleacher report.
follow him on twitter: @danielo_br