Kaminsky, Dekker both face uncertainty at the next level

The 2014-’15 Wisconsin men’s basketball team produced a lot of things, including great memories, cut-down nets and two potential first-round NBA draft picks. After drying away the tears, we heard that Sam Dekker is truly gone, and he will join his co-star and Wooden Award winner Frank Kaminsky at the next level. 

As a writer, it is thus my obligation and written in my contract  to speculate and make predictions on each’s future success even though I will most likely be dead wrong. Let’s have a little fun with it and make it a bit of a friendly competition by pitting the two prospects against each other and figuring out who will become the better pro.

Frank Kaminsky: Draft Express projection: No. 10. Best Comparison: Ryan Anderson 

Kaminsky was the offensive fulcrum of a deadly and efficient Wisconsin attack. He can pretty much do it all, as the versatile center is a force to reckon with both in the paint and on the perimeter. Kaminsky had no problem calling for the ball in the post and then using an array of moves to get buckets. 

Big men who can only post up are in limited demand in today’s NBA, but Kaminsky can also make it rain from downtown. He shot over 40 percent from 3 on over 2.5 attempts per game, a trait that makes general managers drool waterfalls. 

If defenders overplayed his shot, he surprisingly displayed some nimble ball handling, routinely shot faking and putting the ball on the floor, driving to the basket to either get a layup or kick it out to an open man. Kaminsky’s stellar passing vision might be the most underrated part of his arsenal, as the big guy would routinely pass out of double teams to open shooters, which gave him a team-high 2.6 assists per game.

Wherever Kaminsky ends up, he should be a valuable offensive piece. It’s the other side of the court that is a bit more concerning. Without explosive athleticism, he will never become a rim protector, already diminishing his value as a center. 

His lack of lateral quickness will also hurt him against more nimble centers who can do work in the post, such as DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol. This also will prevent him from guarding quicker power forwards if his team ever decides to slot him there.  

While Kaminsky might always be a minus on defense at the next level, his offensive game should flourish. Stretch big men have been matchup nightmares for opposing defenses, and ones as versatile as Kaminsky are even more terrifying. New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson is a name that always gets brought up when comparing Kaminsky, as Anderson is an offensive beast who most likely can’t even spell the word defense. 

There is no shame in that, as Anderson is a very valuable player who opens up the floor on offense. Best case, Kaminsky becomes a transcendent offensive player like Dirk Nowitzki. Start practicing those step backs, Frank.

Sam Dekker: Draft Express projection: No. 15. Best Comparison: Markieff Morris

All year Dekker was the Robin to Kaminsky’s Batman, except he was a Robin on steroids. Dekker had a solid regular season, but he was truly born during the Badgers’ magical tournament run where he put up career-high scoring numbers and made some of the ballsiest shots I’ve ever seen. 

If I could I would marry… OK, OK let’s get to his potential as a prospect. Dekker too has a fairly polished offensive game. He has shown the ability to be a very crafty ball handler, routinely crossing guys up on the perimeter and taking it to the rack. His cutting skills are also very underrated, and he has the strength to finish around the rim in traffic. 

Dekker possesses great size, where at a bulky 6-foot-9-inches he could definitely play either forward position and hold his own. While he might not be as thick as some of the bigger power forwards in the game, just take a look at the difference between Dekker now and his freshman year. His body will fill out, evening those matchups. Dekker also has the wingspan and quickness to become a plus defender. He possesses NBA-level athleticism, throwing down numerous monster dunks in college.

Where Dekker is lacking is his outside shooting, but even that is not too big of a concern. While he has shot a below-average 33 percent from beyond the arc over his last two seasons, Dekker did show the ability to knock down shots as a catch-and-shoot guy coming off the bench as a freshman, splashing over 39 percent of his triples. 

He also had a fiery tournament from deep, shooting over 41 percent beyond the arc, with several being highly contested or off the dribble. Dekker also has a nice, natural-looking shot, so as long as he continues to practice and work at it, his long-range shot shouldn’t be a weakness in the pros.

Dekker definitely has the potential to become an all-around star in the NBA, but he just never took over games consistently in college like many of us hoped he would. For this reason, I just can’t see Dekker becoming a megastar, but more the along the lines of a valuable starter such as Markieff Morris, who also has the versatility to switch between forward positions. Morris has a versatile offensive game and plays solid defense. 

Like Dekker, he too could work on his shot beyond the arc, but Morris also has good form and has shown his prowess as a knockdown mid-range guy who has started to increase his range.

So who will be more successful at the next level? In my opinion, I think Kaminsky will put up better and glamourous numbers with his offensive versatility. 

However, unless he becomes transcendent on that end like Dirk and, playing the odds game, he most likely won’t, I cannot see him being the starting center on a championship-caliber NBA team, but more as a sixth man offensive kick-starter. 

That is why Dekker might end up being the more valuable player at the next level, as I could definitely see him being a starter on a championship team. While the projection game can be dangerous, if there were ever a couple guys to be the best Wisconsin impact NBA players since Devin Harris’ heydey, these two are it.

Will Frank Kaminksy and Sam Dekker be able to translate their success at Wisconsin into NBA glory? Can either one provide the missing ingredient that a team needs for an NBA championship? Let Rushad know at machhi@wisc.edu. 

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