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Behind Kaminsky III's consistently improving statistics

Frank Kaminsky III’s career started off humbly. Wisconsin and Northwestern were the only major-conference programs to offer him a scholarship. He was not ranked in the top 100 in his class in in ESPN’s recruiting ranks. His statistics have improved every season, however, and he was the consensus national player of the year this past season and a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft.

What was the turning point?

Kaminsky III put his name on the map in the fourth game of his junior season, scoring a career-high 43 points on 16-of-19 shooting against North Dakota. He averaged less than 10 minutes per game before that game and more than 30 per game after it. His points per game and rebounds per game grew by more than four times, and his field goal shooting went from 43 percent before that game to 54 percent after it.

What sets Kaminsky III apart?

Kaminsky III’s biggest strength is his polished perimeter game, which is expected to translate well to the NBA, especially as part of a pick-and-pop set. He could fill the role of a stretch 4, the type of player who has become more valuable in today’s NBA with the ability to pull an interior defender to the perimeter.

Kaminsky III has been a perimeter threat in his college career, with 27.5 percent of his attempts coming from behind the 3-point line. He shot 36.9 percent from long range for his four-year career, including 41.6 percent his senior year.

Last season, only one 7-footer in the NBA made at least 100 3-pointers and shot better than 35 percent from deep: Dirk Nowitzki. Kaminsky III’s playing height was measured at 7 feet, ¾ inches at the NBA combine.

Moreover, Kaminsky III led the nation in Player Efficiency Rating last season.

In fact, his 34.4 PER ranks sixth among all players from the 2009-10 season to the present, according to CBB Reference.

Can he defend?

Kaminsky III was the tallest measured player at the NBA combine this year. Of 63 participants, though, 31 had a longer wing span than Kaminsky III.

Kaminsky III’s wing span was three-quarters of an inch shorter than his height without shoes. Beginning with the 2000 draft, there have been two other big men who were first-round draft picks whose wing span was shorter than his height without shoes: Mason Plumlee and Kelly Olynyk.

Moreover, Kaminsky III trailed eight other players in the standing reach, a good measurement for rim protection because it measures the player’s highest reach without jumping.

Players with the highest standing reach at the combine have been some of the NBA’s premier rim protectors. Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan and Hassan Whiteside each were measured with a standing reach of at least 9 feet, 5 inches, 3.5 inches longer than what Kaminsky III was measured at.

Beginning with the 2000 draft, two draftees since 2000 have measured at least as tall as Kaminsky III and had a shorter standing reach: Meyers Leonard and Aaron Gray. Those two players have combined to average 0.3 blocks per game in their careers.

According to Synergy Sports, among 118 players who defended at least 75 post-up plays last season, Kaminsky ranked 84th in opponent points per play (0.83) and 97th in field goal percentage (47.5 percent). He will need to improve in that area to become a better two-way player.

Good company

As a recipient of the Wooden, Naismith and the Associated Press Player of the Year awards, Kaminsky III is in good company. Among the 27 former players to have won all three awards in the same season, all but one were taken in the lottery. Jameer Nelson was the exception.

Among those 27 players, there have been five big men who stayed in college for four seasons: Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Ralph Sampson (swept the awards twice), Christian Laettner and Kenyon Martin.