Hornets NBA

2018-19 Season Review: Frank Kaminsky

At the beginning of the season, Frank Kaminsky seemed to be the odd man out of the rotation. Unable to find his shot and being an extreme liability on defense made him unplayable during the early stages of the season. This, of course would change, as the season started to wind down things would progress for Kaminsky as he helped to almost surge the Hornets into the playoffs.

Before the All-Star break, Kaminsky had appeared in just 26 of Charlotte’s first 57 games. He averaged about 11 minutes in those games, averaging five points, two rebounds, and one assist on splits of 48/35/63.

This wasn’t great. Like, at all. But it is important to state the lack of consistent minutes – and I’ve said before how you can never expect consistency of a player that you, yourself, do not consistently play in games. Hornets fans now know this as “The Malik Monk Effect”. Kaminsky, a seven foot, 26 year old stretch big, has been thrown in and out of the rotation just as often as Monk who is a 21-year old undersized two-guard.

It was clear Kaminsky wasn’t in favor with the Hornets brass and all signs were pointing to him not being on the roster one way or another the following year. Before the All-Star break would even occur, Kaminsky would attempt to leverage this situation and force a move out of Charlotte.

Most can agree that up to that point Kaminsky had not earned the right to demand a trade. Most players don’t have this right as is but he had been bad, really bad. He was a bad rim protector, generally bad at defense overall. He was inefficient in the post, unathletic, a poor rebounder, and didn’t possess the court vision to pass once engaged inside.

Kaminsky’s main calling card was his ability to stretch the floor and shoot the 3-ball at an efficient clip. Yet when the game was close (within five points or less) with less than three minutes left in the game, Kaminsky shot 33% from the field for the entirety of the season.

After the trade deadline had passed and Kaminsky was simply tired of sitting on the bench, he requested a buy-out. For a player in the final year of his rookie contract, a buy-out was laughable.

After this request was inevitably denied despite multiple members his family calling for the Hornets to “Free Frank” on Twitter, Kaminsky stepped up his game – that much is undeniable.

In his final 20 games, Kaminsky averaged 13 points, five rebounds, and one assist in 23 minutes per game on splits of 47/36/79. It was truly a dramatic improvement. So much so, that Charlotte may extend a qualifying offer to Kaminsky this offseason. He’s one of the few rare 7-footers that can hit the 3-point shot. When he’s hot, Kaminsky is one of the best players on the Hornets’ roster. The problem is if he can sustain this consistency into the next season.

That qualifying offer will be something of a question mark this offseason. James Borrego and Mitch Kupchak have stated that they want more ‘rim-protection’ in the front court. Cody Zeller will be returning, as will Bismack Biyombo who opted into his player option for the next season. Willy Hernangomez is another question mark (but it’s unlikely he returns).

That leaves Frank Kaminsky – a player known for his 3-point shot and lack of defense. He doesn’t fit the mold of a rim-protector even in the slightest. The question that remains is if the Hornets bring in another big (either through free agency or the draft), is there still room for Kaminsky on the roster, especially with the predisposition of him not being one of the front office’s “guys”.

Personally, no, I wouldn’t send the qualifying offer Kaminsky’s way. I think it’s time to move in another direction. While most fans would disagree with that point, I understand the counter point. Kaminsky was flashy in the final 20 games of the season and proved he was worth a roster spot. I would not be upset if upper management did, in fact, retain him for next season.

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