Insider: Frank Kaminsky targeting Pacers as destination
With less than two weeks remaining until the NBA draft, the Indiana Pacers are thinking big.
Wisconsin's 7-foot-1 Frank Kaminsky, the 2014-15 consensus Player of the Year, and Myles Turner of Texas – a pair of lottery-bound frontcourt players – will participate in the Pacers' pre-draft workout on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Other players scheduled to appear include Corey Hawkins (UC Davis), Darrun Hilliard (Villanova), T.J. McConnell (Arizona) and D.J. Newbill (Penn State).
Following Thursday's workout between high-profile bigs Trey Lyles and Bobby Portis, the Kaminsky-Turner matchup will bring more insight into who the Pacers will select at No. 11, if the team so chooses to take a forward or center with their first pick.
Kaminsky, the offensively versatile pick-and-pop shooting big who led Wisconsin to the NCAA Championship game, has only recently taken part in team workouts (only the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat, with upcoming scheduled appearances with the Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, who own the No. 4 pick).
For several weeks, the Pacers have wanted to get Kaminsky in for a workout -- and the feeling appears to be mutual. According to a source with knowledge, Kaminsky has a short list of three teams which he believes would be a good fit, and the Pacers are one of them.
Last month at the NBA combine, Kaminsky interviewed with Indiana team officials and recognized how he could fit right away with the 2015-16 Pacers as they promote a quicker pace.
"They kind of alluded to the fact that they want to get up and down more, get out and run a little bit more but at the same time under control," Kaminsky said after his meeting with the Pacers at the combine. "That's kind of how it was for me my last year in Wisconsin, so I think it'll be a good fit."
Kaminsky played four years at Wisconsin, transforming his body and game under head coach Bo Ryan. In his first year, Kaminsky scored an invisible 1.8 points per game but improved to the point where he averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds as a senior and swept the Player of the Year honors (John R. Wooden Award, Associated Press Player of the Year, Naismith Award, NABC Division I Basketball Player of the Year and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Player of the Year).
Even more, Kaminsky, at 22 years old, has shown flashes that he has not tapped out his potential.
Though Kaminsky, who would prefer to play the face-up four position in the NBA, did not take part in the NBA combine drills and athleticism measurements, he has undergone similar testing by his agency while working out in Santa Barbara, Calif. Over a span of five weeks, Kaminsky has increased his vertical leap to a little over 33 inches, an improvement of four inches. Also, Kaminsky has trimmed three-tenths of a second from his pro agility which now compares favorably to the average NBA power forward and center.
This Pacers' workout will reunite Kaminsky with the city of Indianapolis. Kaminsky played his final collegiate game inside a sold-out Lucas Oil Stadium for the Final Four. Back on April 4, Wisconsin blemished Kentucky's perfect season and advanced to the title game then eventually fell to Duke. Last week, both Kaminsky and Lyles, who played one season at Kentucky, met up and worked out for the Suns.
Turner, a 6-11 forward, was one of the first draft prospects to interview with Pacers' team officials at the NBA combine in Chicago. Even then, Turner – a polished 19-year-old who shows potential as a rim protector (2.6 blocks per game during his one and only season at Texas) – echoed the team's intention to play a different brand of basketball.
"They're changing their style of play. They want to move to a faster," Turner said at the combine. "I don't want to say guard-oriented but they want to get smaller and they need guys who can shoot as well. So I know in the bigs' department, they're looking for someone who can do those type of things."
Last season, Turner averaged 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
The recent uptick in marquee bigs coming to Indianapolis coincides with the team's free agent mini-camp that runs next Wednesday and Thursday. The Pacers will bring in unsigned 7-2 center Stanko Barac. In 2007, Barac was drafted by the Miami Heat then traded to the Pacers but has remained in Europe for the past eight years.
Call Star reporter Candace Buckner at (317) 444-6121. Follow her on Twitter: @CandaceDBuckner.