ORLANDO — The rookie NBA seasons of Patrick Ewing and Frank Kaminsky are 30 years apart, more than enough time for the role of the big man and the game itself to have changed dramatically.
The Warriors and Cavaliers finished the 2015 Finals seemingly trying to see which team could put the smallest lineup on the floor.
So here comes Kaminsky, at 7-foot-1 an outstanding 3-point shooter, taking his summer league cues from Ewing, who carved out much of a Hall Fame career with his fierce work down in the low post.
Many of Kaminsky’s strengths will translate well to the current NBA. He is a 7-footer who is 11-for-20 on 3-pointers in his first four games, creating mismatches by stepping outside and challenging opponents come out and defend him.
“I’ve just got to figure out my role within the offense, and on the defensive end, too,” Kaminsky said. “Every game is different. Every team has different personnel, so you have to pay attention and really go with it.”
Kaminsky shot better from the outside in his first two games, but has been successful lately in putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket.
“I think he’s still learning,” Ewing said. “I think he’s going to be a very good player for us. I still want him to do a much better job on the rebounding, also on defense. Those are the things that he’s going to have to work on from here on out, because people are going to try to go at him on the defensive end.
“But I think he’s going to be a good player. He has a great feel for the game. He knows how to put the ball on the floor. He knows how to create and get shots.”
There was a time back in 1985 when Ewing was breaking into the NBA when any young 7-footer would have been encouraged to played more with his back to the basket in the traditional mode of the big man.
“No question, it’s a different situation when you’re talking about going against guys like Hakeem (Olajuwon) and David (Robinson) and Shaq (O’Neal) and me,” Ewing said. “You had to get down there inside and mix things up in order to survive.
“But no matter what era you play in and no matter where you’re playing, any coach, any good coach is going to utilize the skills that a player possesses.
“(Kaminsky) is a guy who can shoot the basketball. He’d probably be a lot like (Bill) Laimbeer. I mean, Laimbeer back in my day, was a big that shot the 3-point shot. He didn’t really post up that much. Frank has the ability to post up. But Laimbeer was a guy that stayed out there and shot 3s. Also Sam Perkins. So it’s not like there weren’t other guys who possessed those skills. It’s just that in this era, there’s a lot more more of them.”
It’s the era when everybody wants and needs the “stretch-four” to space the floor and open up driving lanes for the guards.
“He’s a stretch-big,” Ewing said of Kaminsky. “He’s what, 7-1? Yeah, he’s a stretch-big.”
Kaminsky has heard all of the questions, the criticism, the second-guessing of Charlotte spending the No. 9 pick to get him. They passed on Justise Winslow. They passed up a reported offer of four No. 1 draft picks from the Celtics.
All he’s done is kept his head down to move ahead when he’s not looking at the basket for his shot and listening to Ewing.
“He’s been great so far,” Kaminsky said. “He knows my strength. He runs plays to what my strengths are. He’ll get on me when I need it and there’s a lot of different things he knows about the game that I can just learn. He’s been around the game for so long and has so many tricks up his sleeve, a lot of knowledge that I can take away from him.”
Kaminsky had a double-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds in his first summer league game put up 13 and seven with a couple of blocked shot in Wednesday’s 81-68 loss to the Orlando White team and came away with more things to work on.
“On the defensive end mostly,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I have to work on. Just staying with it. At points in that game I let my emotions get to me a little bit, with fatigue and frustration. But just got to work through all of that.
“I know I need get better in pick-and-roll situations. On the offensive end, I just need to keep adding things to my game. I like being a matchup nightmare. That’s what I want to be in the NBA.”
Which translates in any era.