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Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, Center Role Evolves


Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The center position has changed over time. In my opinion the center is the most important player on the team.  But I am bias as I at one time stood approximately 6' 11" and played that position.

I will use Frank Kaminsky as an example of how the center position is more than just running to the rim, posting on the block and taking up space in the paint. 

I was blessed to earn a D-1 scholarship to University of North Carolina-Wilmington.  I didn't play much basketball before my time in Wilmington.  So I learned at a high level and quickly understood that it is going to take a different level of effort to achieve success at this level.

I was taught posting up, post moves, footwork, blocking out, running to the paint, keep the ball high on a rebound, how to set good picks and so forth.  I was taught all of the things that a big man should know how to do, back then.

The big man role has changed.  Now, putting the ball on the floor for a dribble or two to make a play for others, taking the ball all the way to the rack, pulling up for a jump shot, lining up for a three, spin moves off of the defender, skip passes and follow your pass for a high pick and roll...it has changed!

Let's take Kaminsky's game.  He is no question a smart and heady player.  He knows his opponent and he can take advantage of what the opponent lacks.  He is quick enough he can take slow defenders away from the basket, and strong enough if his opponent is not physical, he will take you to the post. He has a variety of moves and assesses his opponent by demonstrating his moves on and learns the person defending him what his weaknesses are. Will the person guarding him go for the fake?  Well, you have to fake to learn that, and Kaminsky does.  He has a variety of up and under moves, spin moves and face-up skills.

It all makes perfect sense, but it just wasn't how I was taught. By not thinking that I could master the jump shot, spin move or dribble effectively, it limited my effectiveness, especially later in my pro career.

I look back and in a way, I was one, maybe two dimensional.  A jump shot was not emphasized, especially not a three point shot. In the pros, back then, the rules were a little different.  There were no zones. So often it was my job to "stand in the parking lot".  That was making sure that I was above the hash mark to keep my defender from going below the free throw line.  Then I would storm the basket once the shot was up to fight for a rebound. (out of position I might add)

Kaminsky having the ability to shoot the three or put the ball on the floor and pass like a guard makes it very difficult for the opposing center.   That is what makes him so effective.  He will take advantage of a five man that is not mobile by taking them out on the perimeter and exposing their lack of speed with his quickness. This is very effective.

With this effectiveness, Wisconsin is going to ride Kaminsky's talents. It is proven that opponents struggling to match up with his variety of skills.  The Badgers are getting him the ball both inside and out, looking to run the offense through him and he has proven that he is a tough player to guard.

Here is the lesson... teach ALL of the game to a player, don't limit his effectiveness because of old school thinking. Just because a person stands over 6'10" doesn't mean he cannot play effectively like a guard with overall skills needed to be an effective basketball player in the now-a-day game,  as it has EVOLVED.

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