The Hornets are hoping that the former first round draft pick can live up to high expectations in his sophomore season.
It’s hard to question Frank Kaminsky’s popularity. The 7-foot power forward has a certain characteristic on and off the court that just draws people, including Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan. The team has high hopes for Kaminsky, who averaged just over 7 points and 4 rebounds in a subpar rookie season. Can Frank adjust his game to the NBA level, or will he prove to be another misstep for a front office that has a history of struggling in the draft?
Kaminsky is arguably the most popular player in the league who averaged less than 10 ppg last season. Viewed as an “Old School” kind of guy due to his now rare tenure in college, the nickname Frank-the-Tank fits him perfectly. He is likeable, loves cracking jokes, and always seems to be having a good time. Frank’s unconventional and quirky attitude is mirrored by his play on the court, which just adds to his overall character. He is a big goofy guy who can put the ball on the floor, post up, and shoot with confidence. However, these skills have yet to shine through to the NBA in his rookie season.
His defense and rebounding must improve. The Hornets didn’t draft Frank to be a shut down defender or a force down low, but he can’t prove to be a liability in those areas. Next, he still needs to adapt to the speed of the game. Frank has never been and never needs to be the quickest guy on the court, but he needs to figure out a way to adjust to the athleticism of the league. To quicken his release and develop some awkward looking, go-to moves, that leaves defenders wondering, “How did he just get me with that?” That is what is missing from Frank’s game right now, and it may take time to develop. Or it may never develop.
The Hornets will need help offensively if they even have a chance to match the success of last season. In an offseason that saw the departure of key contributors Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson, the team did not make any real big additions to their roster. Even though Kemba, Nic Batum and Marvin Williams will handle the majority of the scoring load, a spark will be needed. MKG is still a big question mark coming off yet another injury, and Marco Belinelli is nothing for defenses to pay special attention to. It is Frank’s time to step up, earn more minutes, and prove his worth as an important first round draft pick for this organization.
Kaminsky was selected 9th overall in the 2015 NBA draft. Experts weren’t too high on the pick, but after his solid play for Wisconsin, the Hornets seemed to have their guy. Questions swirled around his athleticism, toughness, and overall fit on an NBA roster. The speculations only increased, when news broke of what the Hornets gave up in order to get their potential stretch four of the future.
It was reported that the Boston Celtics offered the Hornets four 1st round picks in order to jump up and select Duke’s Justice Winslow. A trade that even Danny Ainge called “probably too much,” still proved to be not enough for the Hornets. They saw Frank as a special kind of player, and more of a valuable asset to this team. Now you can make the argument that those later picks may not have amounted to anything, but the question of “what if” will always be there. Not to mention missing out on a guy like Winslow, who seems to have superior athleticism and a higher ceiling than Frank-the-Tank. This makes the investment in Kaminsky more than just a rookie contract, and another potential Hornets bust in the draft.
One thing is for sure; Frank is a really smart guy. He has a high basketball IQ, a good work ethic, and not everyone can say they’ve caught the attention of NBA greats Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. He has shown the ability to make consistent improvements in the past, culminating in unanimous player of the year honors his senior season. He has things you just can’t teach on an NBA court. A unique skillset that can prove to be a tough matchup for teams if utilized correctly, but major strides need to be made in almost every aspect. You can question Michael Jordan’s unique draft selection and unusual confidence in Frank all you want, but he is the X-factor this team needs if they look to be anything other than average this upcoming season.