Rosen: Frank Kaminsky overcoming limitations to learn to play in the NBA

AP Photo/Brandon Dill

Frank Kaminsky III was the ninth pick in the 2015 draft and has become a decidedly atypical NBA player.

Because of an injury to Marvin Williams, Kaminsky was tabbed to make a rare start in Charlotte’s 104-85 blowout in Memphis—and demonstrated how successfully he has overcome his many shortcomings.

Kaminsky’s talent level is far below the NBA norm. He’s slow with the ball, slow off the floorboards, runs with a stiff-backed gait, and shows not a hint of either razzle or dazzle.

He was put in iso situations four times: A baseline drive from the left box, a post-up on the right box, and a drive right from the foul line that resulted in three bricks—plus a fake-left-go-right banker against the formidable Marc Gasol.

He missed all four of his catch-and-shoot triples and is barely adequate (30.1 percent) from downtown.

His left-handed dribble is more of a patty-cake bounce than an attack weapon.

Measuring 7’0” and 240 pounds, the slender Kaminsky was routinely bullied when vying for rebounds.

He was easily beaten several times in one-on-one situations by JaMychal Green and Jarell Martin. Mike Conley also burned him when Kaminsky was forced to switch—but this was totally excusable.

Kaminsky always looked to box his man off the boards but was often not quick-footed enough to make solid contact.

How, then, did he manage to equal his season’s average by scoring twelve points? In addition, Kaminsky grabbed six rebounds (four of them man-sized grabs in traffic), and distribute three assists.

Simply because he has learned how to play in the NBA.

To whit:

He has good hands, terrific court awareness, doesn’t play beyond his capabilities and is an alert passer. Hence his zero turnovers in 31 minutes.

Kaminsky’s ability to read the action was manifest in several dive cuts from the weak side that got him a pair of uncontested layups. Moreover, he took full advantage when Conley switched on to him by moving into the low post and scoring on another fake-left-go-right bank shot.

The one time attacked the hoop with a left-handed dribble he was fouled and made both of his free throws. This off-handed move was something that he rarely (if ever) was capable of doing in his undergraduate career at Wisconsin.

Since Kaminsky’s man-to-man defense was not up to par, it’s puzzling why the Grizzlies didn’t go after him more frequently. In any event, Kaminsky played excellent team defense, coming from the weakside to offer effective help on numerous occasions. Moreover, he made a timely closeout that forced Vince Carter to miss what otherwise would have been an uncontested three-ball.

Kaminsky also set several brush screens that helped to scramble the Grizzlies defense.


Because he’s usually in the right places at the right times, Kaminsky is a classic over-achiever.

As such, and left to his own devices, he’ll never be an All-Star. But on a smart, well-coached team (like the Hornets), Frank Kaminsky can continue to be a valuable asset.

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