This time last year, Frank Kaminsky was in the middle of dream senior season for the Wisconsin Badgers. Kaminsky would go on to win both the John R. Wooden Award and the Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year while leading the Badgers to the National Championship game.
After pegging Kaminsky as a future star who can contribute right away, Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets selected him ninth overall instead of trading down for a package of four first-round picks from the Boston Celtics on draft night. Now that the season is here, Kaminsky’s adjustment to the NBA is going a little slower than expected as he’s in the back of the rotation trying to carve out a big role for the Hornets this season.
“There’s a lot of difference in the game, a lot of difference in the lifestyle and everything like that but I’m enjoying everything so far it’s been a lot of fun,” Kaminsky said. “It’s nice to be able to go out and help the team anyway I can. I’m just trying to do whatever I can. We got a good win last game so hopefully we can keep it going.”
So far in his rookie season, Kaminsky is averaging only 14.1 minutes and 4.3 points per game but is beginning to gain the Hornets coaching staff trust. Recently after logging his first DNP (Coaches Decision) of his career, Kaminsky began showing some all-around improvement and has played 18 minutes or more in the last seven games.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford has recently publicly praised Kaminsky for his improved defensive effort which is a great indication of the increased minutes for the former Badger.
Despite being the poster boy for college basketball the last two seasons and a mature twenty-two year old, Kaminsky, like most NBA rookies, has a mentor on the team showing him the ropes. Luckily for the young post man, his mentor Al Jefferson knows a thing or about what it takes to have a successful career as he’s in the middle of his 12th NBA season having come straight out of high school into the Association.
Jefferson, who is expected to miss the next two to three weeks of games while recovering from a strained left calf, likes what he sees in the developing rookie.
“He did something that a lot of guys don’t do no more; go all four years to college, and I think that helped him going into the league he’s adjusted very well and earning himself some minutes,” Jefferson said. “The way he plays and the way I play, we complement each other – he’s one of them pick and pop who can shoot the ball and put the ball on the floor like a guard and I’m an old school big.”
Thanks to Jefferson’s injury, Kaminsky is expected to get a more expanded role in the Hornets offense. With Stephen Curry and the streaking Golden State Warriors coming to town next, the young rookie will get a great barometer of where he stacks up against the league’s best.