Frank Kaminsky, the Associated Press and Big Ten Player of the Year and Oscar Robertson Award recipient, is much better than many of the preconceived notions suggest. There is often a large difference between a great college player and serviceable NBA guy, but Kaminsky isn't Adam Morrison or even Doug McDermott. He'll have a big role in the NBA.
Kaminsky was the most complete big man in college basketball and has been the driving force behind Wisconsin's powerful offense for the last two seasons under head coach Bo Ryan. These are the reasons why he'll be a solid NBA player.
1. He can handle and pass
Ball-handling is one of Kaminsky's most underrated skills. He can take players one-on-one, whether in the post or on the break. He has the skill to take the ball by himself and find an open teammate for an easy score.
This is a center leading the break.
He can also make quick passing reads in scramble situations. Take this play against Michigan State:
As soon as Kaminsky leaps, four Michigan State players swarm to him. This makes it easy to find Nigel Hayes under the rim.
2. He's a driving threat
Kaminsky can spot up and hit open jumpers, something that'll help him in the pros. He can also take slower defenders off the dribble, which he showed against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
Kaminsky sets the defender up going middle, uses a spin move to turn the other way and then gathers for the bucket. Here's the same set of moves, but this time against Kentucky's NBA-level length.
It's crafty moves like this that allow Kaminsky to carve his way to the basket from the outside. He's not the most athletic player, but he finds a way to use his body to create space and finish softly around the rim.
His first step is strong, too. Watch him go around the quicker Branden Dawson going baseline.
He gets the ball on a hand-off, takes Dawson off the dribble and finishes above the rim with a two-hand flush. The move worked because he shielded the dribble with his body and finished because of a height advantage.
3. He can hit perimeter shots
This is all set up because he can shoot the ball from the perimeter, which NBA teams will use to their advantage. Watch this play against Nebraska.
Kaminsky recognized the screen coming from Hayes and started running to the top of the key. As the pass came, he planted and faded to left wing. This kind of technique is rarely seen in a big man, which is why Kaminsky's defender didn't recognize the play.
Kaminsky ran that man and another help defender into the screen to set up the wide-open attempt. He's so open that Bronson Koenig's man had to leave him to try to contest his shot.
Simple moves like that get Kaminsky open. He'll fit right in as a stretch big man on the right team if he can continue to make plays like this.
And if teams close out on him, he can work around more athletic players. Look at this move from the three-point line against NBA prospect Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
That's the kind of player who should stay with Kaminsky, but can't.
4. He has elite post moves
Kaminsky's post-up ability is his major selling point. He gets deep post position before he catches. He has great footwork, a bevy of moves in his arsenal and great touch around the rim. He can overpower smaller defenders and has enough creativity to score against bigger men as well.
Take a look at a Kaminsky vs. Duke's Jahlil Okafor in their first matchup in early December.
Though he lost his dribble, he regained his post footwork and finished over the top of Okafor, negating Jahlil's length advantage by pushing into his body. If he can finish over arguably the best NBA prospect in this year's class, Kaminsky should be just fine.
Every Kaminsky attribute was on display on this post score against Arizona.
Kaminsky appeared to be trapped by Kaleb Tarczewski, but holds his pivot, uses a counter-move and spins the opposite direction to get the bucket. The shot looks difficult, but it also shows his patience and advanced footwork. Not many college big men can make this move, which makes his patience in the post as NBA-ready as any big man in this draft class.
Kaminsky can also overpower smaller defenders, as he does here against Ohio State.
NBA teams are increasingly switching pick and rolls, especially with shooting big men. That'll make Kaminsky effective punishing mismatches. He can take them under the hoop, but he can also turn and shoot over them to beat the help.
Note how Kaminsky doesn't waste any effort on this play. He takes power dribbles and goes right up for the shot. He has NBA height and makes quick decisions, two essential traits needed in a faster game at the next level.
All this shows why Kaminsky is absolutely worth a lottery pick. While he needs to work on his post defense and rebounding, he has the offensive package and basketball IQ to get by most NBA big men. A 10-year career as a key rotation piece awaits.
If he can finish over Okafor, drive around Hollis-Jefferson and score 20 on Kentucky's defense, he can play in the league. Teams in the late lottery shouldn't pass on college basketball's best player this season just because he's a senior with less obvious upside than many of his peers.
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