Michigan State Basketball: Why Kenny Kaminski is poised to break out

Kenny Kaminski’s time at Michigan State hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies.

He redshirted his first year due to a right shoulder injury that had plagued him since high school. He went into last season healthy, but an early season suspension due to academics kept him off the court for the first three games of the year. Even once the suspension was lifted he had difficulty getting minutes because he didn’t play defense up to Tom Izzo’s standards. But once he got his chance, he started knocking down jumpers left and right and Izzo couldn’t help but keep him on the floor.

Kenny  Kaminski will need to improve his defense if he wants to take the next step in 2014

Kenny Kaminski will need to improve his defense if he wants to take the next step in 2014

Kaminski finished the 2013-14 season with the highest 3-point percentage in the B1G (49.4) which was also the second best mark ever for a Michigan State freshman. His ability to knock down perimeter shots helped stretch out defenses and was instrumental in the Spartan’s Elite Eight run.

Looking ahead to next season, there is no question that Michigan State will be looking for sources of offense considering all the firepower it just lost. The most likely candidates to pick up the slack will be Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice–but don’t be surprised if Kenny Kaminski carves out a bigger offensive role than expected.

Last year Kaminski’s offensive game consisted almost exclusively of catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. He proved to be a lethal weapon in that capacity, but next season the Spartans will need more versatile scorers, something that Kaminski is capable of becoming. Last season, 74 percent of Kaminski’s field goal attempts came from behind the 3-point arc, a number that should reduce significantly if he is to become a more well-rounded scorer.

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At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds Kaminski has the size to play in the post, he just never has because of how successful of a shooter he is. If he can manage to add some post moves to his arsenal, he has a chance to become a real scoring option for MSU. It takes hard work and dedication to develop those skills, especially if he has never worked on them before, but if he dedicates himself this summer to becoming a more complete scorer he can do it.

The most maligned aspect of Kaminski’s game is his defense. Although he got some significant minutes last year he still didn’t consistently play good defense. His somewhat limited athleticism will probably prevent him from ever becoming an elite defender, but he has size and if he can improve his defensive fundamentals he could become a solid defensive player. If there is any coach capable of turning Kaminski into the best defender possible, it’s Tom Izzo, so Spartan fans shouldn’t be overly concerned about his defense.

The biggest reason that Kenny Kaminski is poised for a breakout season is the players around him. There isn’t a Gary Harris or Adreian Payne on the team who will carry the scoring burden, it will have to be more of a team effort. Kaminski proved last year that he can excel as a role player, but this season he will be tested even further. We will find out if he is capable of becoming one of the top scoring options on the team, and I believe he will be up to the challenge.

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