Charlotte Hornets: Frank Kaminsky’s Changing Perceptions and Proving His Worth

February 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Frank Kaminsky III (44) during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
February 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Frank Kaminsky III (44) during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

After being labeled as a bust at the start of his career, Frank Kaminsky is starting to change perceptions in his sophomore season with his play for the Charlotte Hornets.

Coming out of the University of Wisconsin, everyone pretty much knew what type of NBA player Frank Kaminsky would be. Whatever team drafted him would get a solid player who didn’t have a lot of upside. Unfortunately, unrealistically high expectations were placed on the big man because of the circumstances surrounding his draft selection by the Charlotte Hornets.

After drafting Frank ahead of higher-rated prospects, namely Justise Winslow, Myles Turner and Devin Booker, and reportedly turning down four first round picks from the Boston Celtics for the ninth overall pick, lofty expectations were put on Kaminsky to no fault of his own. That tough even for a player who spent four years at the college level. While his upside wasn’t as high as other draftees, there was still room to grow for the seven footer.

The 23-year old didn’t have a great rookie season as he played behind Marvin Williams in the team’s rotation. Averaging 7.5 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game, many were quick to write off Kaminsky as a bust. Those talks continued into this season as he was struggling to find his rhythm off the bench for Charlotte.

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It took a stroke of luck and misfortune for Frank to finally break out of his sophomore slump. When Cody Zeller went down with a quad contusion that would keep him sidelined for weeks, Steve Clifford gifted Kaminsky with the starting center role. The Illinois-native finally got his chance to play big minutes consistently to show the Hornets and the rest of the league just what he is capable of.

Once Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes were traded at the beginning of February, that also opened up the doors for Kaminsky. During his first one and a half seasons, Frank was only used as a power forward but after being given the chance at center, the five appears to be his strongest position. While he is outmatched at times against bigger centers, his agility and ability to stretch the floor give him an advantage on the offensive end. It also allows the Hornets to spread the floor which in turn creates space for Kemba Walker to attack.

While things haven’t panned out for the team over this stretch, Kaminsky’s play has been a bright spot. The month of February was his breakout. During 11 games in the month, Frank averaged 18 points per game and seven rebounds per game while shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.5% from three. All of these marks are well above his season average as this has been the best stretch of his career to date. Kaminsky has been the secondary scoring option for Charlotte in a number of games this year. He even scored a career-high 27 points against the Toronto Raptors.

Even though the Hornets don’t get a lot of national television exposure, Kaminsky made the most of his time on the big stage at all-star weekend playing in the Rising Stars Challenge. He posted a team-high 27 points with nine made three’s to lead Team USA.

Not only has he been consistent but Kaminsky has also passed a few milestones along the way. From Sam Perley, Frank made 27 total three’s in the month of Feb. and no other center in the NBA made more than 14 during that stretch. Also, four of Kaminsky’s five career double-doubles came in February. Frank became only the fourth player in franchise history to make a combined 150+ three’s in his rookie and sophomore seasons as he joined Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker.

Although his defense and rebounding still aren’t great, the simple fact that Kaminsky’s offensive game is improving and rounding into form is a positive sign. He may never live up to four first round picks or even players that were drafted after him but Frank is proving himself far from a bust. Comparing him to other first round draft picks in 2015, he currently ranks eighth in scoring and was up to third in the month of February behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker.

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It will be a while before the rest of the league starts to respect Kaminsky but he is proving himself to be a valuable role player for the Charlotte Hornets this season and likely going forward. If his outstanding offensive performances continue, the way that the average fan views Frank may begin to change.  While he is still the awkward stretch big man who isn’t a great rebounder or defender, the perception of him being a bust is slowly starting to fade.