Lottery pick Frank Kaminsky spent his Summer League in Orlando this season. Not Las Vegas like many NBA players, but Orlando, where the nightlife is, well, let’s just say unlike that of Las Vegas.
Kaminsky wasn’t too upset about that.
“Not really,” the Hornets center told Damon Amendolara and Jason La Canfora, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “There’s no gambling in Orlando, so I saved my per diem money.”
Summer League in the NBA is a lot like preseason football in the NFL; you can’t read too much into it. Still, it was the first time that Kaminsky dipped his toes in NBA waters – and for that reason alone, it was special.
“It was definitely very cool just having a chance to work with the coaches that are going to be helping me throughout the season,” Kaminsky said. “Getting to play with some of the guys I’m going to play with during the year is obviously a very cool experience. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NBA, and Summer League is that first step in the process of becoming an NBA player. I feel like I improved and got better. But the game itself is a little bit different, so I’m making adjustments to it day by day.”
Kaminsky, the ninth overall pick in the draft, is a 7-footer who can score from both the inside and the outside.
“The system that we used in Summer League had me catching the ball in areas where I can operate,” Kaminsky said. “I was playing on the perimeter, setting a lot of ball screens. I’m planning on playing some 4 at the next level, so obviously transitioning with that can be a little bit difficult, but I think I’m doing well with all of it.”
All lottery picks face a certain degree of pressure – that’s just the nature of the business – but it’s especially true for Kaminsky, who will be asked to contribute right away. That’s nothing new for Kaminsky, who led Wisconsin to back-to-back Final Fours in 2014 and 2015, including a national runner-up finish this past season.
“Yeah, I think it definitely helped,” Kaminsky said of his March Madness exposure. “It helped going back for another year after I became somewhat of a name because I felt like I had a target on my back, and I wanted to see how I responded to that. I think I responded well. It’s given me a lot of confidence going into the next level.”
Kaminsky, nicknamed “Frank the Tank,” had two tanks sewn into his suit jacket for ESPYs on Wednesday.
“It started in high school,” Kaminsky said of his nickname. “A lot of people at Wisconsin kind of really started calling me just ‘Tank’ and stuff like that. I always knew from then on that no matter what nickname I had, that would always be the popular one.”
Kaminsky, who has seen “Old School” dozens of times, posed for Sports Illustrated in uniform, outside in the snow, and in front of a tank this past season. Nothing was superimposed. Kaminsky said he took a few photos, ran to a van to get warm for a few minutes, and then re-emerged to take a few more shots.
The eventual National Player of the Year didn’t complain.
“Nope, just went with it because I knew it would be a cool photo,” he said, “and maybe my Twitter picture one day – which it is right now.”
Ultimately, Kaminsky only wants to do one thing in the NBA: win. He came up just shy of a title in both high school and college. He doesn’t want that to be the case in the NBA.
“When it’s all said and done for me, I want to be known as a champion,” he said. “So I’m going to do whatever I can to win as much as I can at the next level.”