Profiling Potential Pacers Picks: Frank Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky may still be on the board when the Indiana Pacers make the 11th selection in Thursday’s draft. If nothing else, it would be great to see the Wisconsin’s first-team All-American in a Pacers uniform just so the Bankers Life Fieldhouse could echo with chants of “Frank the Tank!”

In his senior season with the Badgers, the 7’0″ Kaminsky averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per a game while shooting 54.7% from the field. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. In his Final Four run we learned he’s a big Super Mario Smash Bros. fan and he’s mildly amused by stenographers.

But what else does Frank Kaminsky bring to the floor?

Strengths

Frank Kaminsky is big. Like, 7-foot-tall big. Even better, he’s not a guy who has trouble moving around on the court either. He didn’t have a problem scoring in college thanks to his ability to spread the floor with his shooting, going 41.6% from beyond the arc.

On top of those abilities it seems his basketball IQ is high enough to make up for a lack of freak athleticism. Again, that’s not to say he can’t move on the floor, he’s just close to average. He showed the ability to move on screens both as a defender and when he set them on offense. I could imagine him and George Hill working the pick and roll like Hill does with David West. His 3-point shooting ability allows the pick-and-pop to be a real possibility for the Pacers to utilize.

Best of all, a team that drafts him is not drafting potential. Kaminsky will be a contributor on day one. While the 22-year-old’s perceived lack of potential relative to some of his younger peers is often viewed as a negative, Jay Bilas, on an ESPN media call, explained why that may be the wrong way to look at things.

“Years ago when a 22‑year‑old came into the league, nobody said, ‘Well, that’s it. That is the ceiling, he can’t get any better,’” said Bilas. “Of course Frank can get better and I think he will get better. He’ll get stronger. He’ll find his game even more than it is now. But what Frank Kaminsky is right now is more than good enough. And that’s sort of the issue with anybody [if] you’re betting on their potential: There is a chance they’re not going to reach it. Frank has reached a very good level of potential — and I still think he’s going to get better … He’s a top 10 pick because of who he is, not who he’s going to be.”

Weaknesses

Frank Kaminsky is agile for a 7-footer. He lacks explosiveness, but not to the point that it’s going to make him useless in the NBA. He will also be coming out of a system in Wisconsin in which he starred in, so there are questions about him adjusting to a lesser role and still being effective.

Another worry is that he dominated bigger, slower men in college. Can he do that in the NBA? Defenses will be faster and bigger, taking away some of Kaminsky’s advantages. He wasn’t particularly devastating as a post-up player in college, so it’s hard to imagine him doing better against the DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whitesides of the NBA. He did good to bulk up a bit in college, but he’ll need to add more size to play center in the NBA. If not, he may end up being a large power forward.

Figuring out his natural position in the NBA may take time, and if he can’t find a way to contribute a lot on offense, his defense could become a liability that is large enough to force a coach to leave him on the bench.

Fit in Indiana

The team says it wants to get faster, and I’m not sure if Kaminsky fits that mold. However, he isn’t slow and clunky either.

The question is really about how Larry Bird wants this team to look going forward. If they are really ready to abandon the grinding and slower approach, that doesn’t favor a big man like Kaminsky. If they are serious about being a more run-and-gun team like the Golden State Warriors, then I’m not sure Frank is the man the Pacers need right now.

However, maybe I’m not giving enough credit to his mobility. When he talked to Candace Buckner of the Indy Star, he felt that wouldn’t be an issue.

Last month at the NBA combine, Kaminsky interviewed with Indiana team officials and recognized how he could fit right away with the 2015-16 Pacers as they promote a quicker pace.

Why Larry Bird/Pacers fans will talk themselves into Frank Kaminsky

He’s not Roy Hibbert. Indiana fans are clamoring for a more offensively minded center, and Frank Kaminsky fits that description. He plays more like a modern center than Hibbert does, but he obviously isn’t the same rim protector Hibbert is.

If Bird takes Frank, he see’s a center who can learn to play better defense and won’t bog down the offense like a tradition big man might. His 3-point shooting has to be the most intriguing part of the 7-footer’s game as he could get Indiana out of the doldrums of NBA offenses.

Why Larry Bird/Pacers fans will talk themselves out of Frank Kaminsky

Tyler Hansbrough 2.0? Doubtful he’s as one-dimensional in the NBA as Hansbrough is, but fans sometimes see another 4-year white guy who thrived at the college level. I think these concerns are overblown, and ultimately where he goes is really about who’s left on the board. It doesn’t seem like Kaminsky has a high ceiling, but his basement is pretty shallow as well.

Frank Kaminsky looks like a guy who will have a decent run in the NBA thanks to his shooting, the only real questions are how he will adjust to bigger and faster players in the NBA and if his basketball IQ can make up for some of the physical tools he lacks.