Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets rookie Frank Kaminsky picks up on NBA nuances

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford, right, says he’s pleased with the progress of rookie Frank Kaminsky (44). He’s encouraging Kaminsky to shoot more.
Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford, right, says he’s pleased with the progress of rookie Frank Kaminsky (44). He’s encouraging Kaminsky to shoot more. AP

There’s an axiom in basketball that relates to the difference in duration between the college and NBA shot clocks.

It goes: The most selfish thing you can do in a college game is take the first open shot. And the most selfish thing you can do in an NBA game is not take that shot.

So when Charlotte Hornets rookie Frank Kaminsky made one of six attempts against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, coach Steve Clifford’s only reaction was keep letting it fly.

Clifford likes Kaminsky’s skill set, particularly his shooting range beyond the NBA 3-point line. So it’s highly unlikely you’ll hear Clifford admonish Kaminsky for shooting too much.

He’s still adjusting from the 35-second shot clock he played under at Wisconsin, versus the 24-second NBA clock.

“’I think there are some things I may have passed up, but if you watched me in college, I always worked for the best shot possible,” Kaminsky said. “Now in the NBA, when you’re open you’ve got to let it go. That’s an adjustment in itself. Those are things that will just have to come with the progression of time.”

Re-evaluating when to shoot and when to pass is a classic rookie transition from college.

“You can run through an entire set in college and still have extra time left over,” Kaminsky said. “In the NBA the ball doesn’t move from side-to-side as many times. It can’t (because of the shorter shot clock), so when you get a good shot you’ve got to let it go.”

Kaminsky has logged 107 minutes over the Hornets’ 6-0 start this preseason. He hasn’t shot well overall (33.3 percent), but his 38.5 percent from 3-point range (5-of-13) is one of the reasons the Hornets selected him ninth overall in last June’s NBA draft.

A 7-footer with that sort of shooting range forces opposing big men to stray from the lane defensively and will open space for center Al Jefferson to post up or guards to drive to the rim.

Kaminsky is transitioning from playing center at Wisconsin to playing power forward in the NBA. Clifford said Kaminsky has made significant progress in the last 1½ weeks with the nuances of the pro game.

“He’s really starting to get it,” Clifford said. “He played well (against the Bulls).He did a lot of the little things that he’s going to need to do to play consistently – like defensive rotations and his screening. It wasn’t good in the first half and was good in the second half.

“He has such a skill level that once he gets into the details, he’ll put so much pressure on the defense.”

And as far as shot selection?

“I think he gives up too many shots,” Clifford said.

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Kaminsky appreciates he still has lots to learn.

“There are always things you’re naturally good at and other things you have to work on to become better at,” Kaminsky said. “Defensive rotations were one of those things – just picking up on the small things by watching Marvin (Williams) and Cody (Zeller).”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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