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Why NBA teams should tank for Frank

Quick! Name a flaw in Frank Kaminsky’s game. I’ll wait. Wisconsin’s center, and the nation’s top player according to every award on the planet, can literally do any and everything on a basketball court. He can bomb threes and smoothly work the post. His lanky arms can pick even the unlikeliest of rebounds out of thin air. The 7-footer can pass and handle the ball like a guard. His defense and footwork are textbook. kaminsky The one legitimate knock on Kaminsky is his frame. Right now, he’s too thin to succeed in the NBA. LeBron James could probably snap Frank the 242-pound Tank over his knee. But NBA trainers can fix that. Every draft “expert” in the world loves Jahlil Okafor. And rightfully so. The 19-year-old freshman is a bear in a basketball uniform. At a strong 270-pounds, Duke’s NBA-bound freshman star is a force down low and has moves well beyond his years. You’ll find an unbiased Duke announcer before you find a mock draft that projects Kaminsky to go higher than Okafor. And while the reasoning is understandable, it’s clear that Kaminsky is getting disrespected—despite being projected by most to go by the 10th pick in the draft. Okafor is still a teenager and has the type of raw potential that, if it maximizes, could dominate the pro game. But as of right now, he can’t defend, rebound, pass, dribble or shoot—translation: “play basketball”—the way Kaminsky can. The pride of Wisconsin took Duke’s big man to school in Monday night’s championship, outscoring him 21-to-10, out-rebounding him 12-to-3 and outplaying him defensively despite Okafor’s 28-pound advantage. Okafor played 17 minutes less due to foul trouble, but it was clear who the best player on the court was. So where’s the issue? Maybe it’s because Kaminsky is a goofy white guy, and those don’t typically work out in the NBA. Doug McDermott became the NCAA’s fifth all-time leading scorer last year, got drafted in the first round and now sits the bench for a Chicago Bulls team that could use wing shooting. While the former Big East superstar still has time to grow into a real NBA role player, this is an example of how collegiate greatness doesn’t translate to professional success. But this isn’t Adam Morrison we’re dealing with. Assuming he bulks up and prepares his body for the pro game, Kaminsky has all the makings of the second coming of a more guard-like Dirk Nowitzki. It sounds crazy, I know. Things like this always do. Mock drafts and projections are a follow-the-leader field—every outlet has the same ol’ rankings, and every fan takes them as gospel. Anything that splashes faces with the cold water of reality is met with opposition. Going against the grain feels like Will Ferrell’s character, Frank (the source of Kaminsky’s nickname), when he went streaking in “Old School”—”Everybody’s doing it!”—by himself. But years from now, when he’s putting up Dirk-like numbers for a contending team, you’ll probably look back at this draft class and think: “How did I not realize Kaminsky would be this good?” This isn’t a knock on Okafor at all, as he could definitely pan out, too. He’s a freak athlete and a dominant post player who needs some polishing in the right environment. This kid overcame a tough life to become a stud who teams like the Knicks, Lakers and 76ers have been tanking all year for a shot to hitch their future on. But the real guy they should be tanking for…is the Tank himself.


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