Anyone who calls themselves a college basketball fan knows who Frank Kaminsky is. The 7’1″, 234 pound center from Lisle, Illinois, just west of Chicago, was the unquestioned leader of the University of Wisconsin Badgers basketball team for the past two years and played a key role in getting his squad to the NCAA Tournament Championship Game this past season. And yet, he hasn’t even been in the lottery pick discussion.
Granted, it’s not hard to see why the teams that own the first 14 picks in the 2015 NBA Draft would take a pass on Kaminsky. Despite putting up impressive senior season numbers of 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from long range, he is not the strongest-looking prospect and a lot of his success can be attributed to Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s swing offense.
On top of that, Kaminsky has TWGS, or Tall White Guy Syndrome. As someone who also has this medical anomaly, allow me to further elaborate. Kaminsky’s body is built as such that there is his head, his torso and then legs appearing out of nowhere. To call him long and lean would be a grand understatement. Long story short, on looks alone, Kaminsky’s build immediately brings concern about his ability to keep up with stronger players at his position, particularly in the rebounding department.
But then there are Kaminsky’s intangibles, and he’s got A LOT of them. Despite Ryan’s system, he can score in a multitude of ways from hook shots in traffic to the pick-and-roll to his ever-developing low post game. Kaminsky also has a knack for creating scoring opportunities for either himself or his teammates, being absolutely selfless on the court and showing a remarkably positive attitude as a leader.
Most important of all, it should be noted that Kaminsky is probably the hardest worker in this year’s draft class. Unlike many of the top prospects, he was not a star player from the get go. In four years in Madison, he worked his way from benchwarmer to rotational player to star player, showing improvement in all major statistical categories with each passing season. For someone who doesn’t look like a lottery pick, he certainly plays with the heart of one.
And yet, Kaminsky seems to grade out more as a mid-to-late first round pick. Nbadraft.net currently projects him going 15th overall to the Atlanta Hawks, and puts his pro comparison at a cross between Sean Marks and Nenad Krstic, with one man spending his career as a rotational guy and the other having some key moments as a starter before heading to the same fate.
But then there’s Draft Express, who currently predicts Kaminsky will go No. 8 to the Detroit Pistons, ahead of arguably superior prospects in Arizona’s Stanley Johnson and Texas’s Myles Turner. Thsu, the question presents
If you ask this writer and NBA Draft junkie, that comparison couldn’t be further from the truth. To me, Kaminsky grades out more as a Pau Gasol/Dirk Nowitzki-type in that he can stand and bang in the paint and use his length to play above average interior defense while also showcasing an ability to stretch the floor and create mismatches. He’s maybe 10-15 pounds of muscle away from reaching that level, but Kaminsky has a great basketball IQ and will adjust to whatever kind of system his eventual coach wants him to play.
The long and short of it is that this is a player who, at 22 years old, can succeed in the NBA on heart alone. So long as his coaches are patient with him and give him the opportunity, he will succeed and become an integral member of whichever team selects him.
Hopefully, as Draft Day draws nearer, executives and scouts will realize that he is worthy of a high pick.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports