Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky: The Next Jared Berggren?Posted by Brendan Brody on November 5th, 2013
Wisconsin does not function like most of the other perennial Top 25 teams. In this age of one-and-done factories, they actually have players that wait their turns as freshmen and sophomores before taking on bigger and more meaningful roles as upperclassmen. The latest player in this Madison assembly line is junior Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky is the next in a long line of pick-and-pop big men to take on a larger expected role now that he’s a junior. With the graduations of senior Badgers’ Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren, Kaminsky is the only post player on the roster who has any kind of experience, and his development will be a key factor in whether Bo Ryan’s team drops from its usual 20-plus win season. With an experienced backcourt and a rising star in sophomore Sam Dekker, how much production Wisconsin gets from Kaminsky will be the difference between having simply a good or a great season.
In his first two seasons, Kaminsky has shown flashes of being able to handle an expanded role. He has no problem being aggressive on the offensive end, as he has used 21.3 percent of Wisconsin possessions when he is on the floor. He also has shown no issue taking threes despite his 6’11″ stature, shooting 80 triples out of a total of 154 field goal attempts in his his two-year career. His eFG% of 51.0 percent could be better, but it sits right at about the level of another very productive former Wisconsin big man, Keaton Nankivil, who also waited his turn. In looking at the numbers of the last two big men in Ryan’s swing offense, it’s a safe assumption that Kaminsky is due for a statistical jump across the board. Nankivil went from averaging 14 minutes, 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds per game, and nine made threes, to 25 minutes, 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds per game, and 24 threes as a junior. Berggren had an even greater statistical spike between his sophomore and junior years, going from 6.9 minutes, 2.4 points, 1.1 rebounds per game, and 22 threes, to 27.8 minutes, 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 45 made threes. It’s safe to assume that Kaminsky is next in line to make the jump.
Bo Ryan’s offensive system is complex, and that’s part of why it seems as if it takes a couple of years for players to really thrive in it. Someone like Traveon Jackson last year also proves the premise that when Wisconsin loses someone, whetherto graduation or injury (Josh Gasser’s injured ACL last season), the Badgers simply plug someone in and the team picks up right where they left off. Kaminsky needs to rebound better (7.3% offensive rebound rate, 12.5% defensive rebound rate), but if he fixes that, he can be the next good-not-great Badger center, picking up his productivity with more minutes and experience from two years in the system. He averaged 15.0 points per game on the team’s Canadian exhibition tour this summer, and 12 to 14 points per game for him this season is definitely in play. Wisconsin is younger than it usually is, but they have enough contributors returning to take their customary spot near the top of the league, especially with Kaminsky making gains similar to the centers that came before him in Madison.