Frank was taken 9th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft... the same year in which the Suns selected Devin Booker with the 13th pick. While Booker’s value soared, Kaminsky’s fell. While Booker received a max contract extension, Charlotte declined to offer Kaminsky a qualifying offer and he became an unrestricted free agent.
Booker has proven to be far superior to the player taken 4 spots before him in that draft but is Frank Kaminsky a complete bust? Did James Jones make a mistake in signing him?
Kaminsky has definitely failed to live up to expectations but perhaps he isn’t really a lost cause. Jones obviously saw something in him that he liked. It still remains curious that while Jones has decided to move on from previous Suns GM Ryan McDonough’s mistakes, he has decided to add to the Suns’ roster what could be considered one of Charlotte’s mistakes.
In order to get a better idea of what Suns fans should expect from Frank this coming season, I asked Jonathan DeLong, the managing editor of our SB Nation sister site “At The Hive”, for his impressions of Frank the Tank.
Here’s what he had to say.
There are two Frank Kaminsky’s. There is end-of-season Frank Kaminsky and there is rest-of-the-season Frank Kaminsky. End-of-season Frank Kaminsky is a deadeye shooter with good touch around the basket and a passable rebounder. Rest-of-the-season Frank Kaminsky is neither of those things. In each of his four seasons, Kaminsky has played demonstrably better after the All Star break than before it. Before, he averages 15.2 points, and 5.4 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 40.7% from the field and 32.3% from three. After the break, he averages 17.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 43.9% from the field and 39.1% from three. This happens every year. Fans go into the season excited about how he finished the prior season, but those strong finishes never carry over.
Kaminsky is very streaky offensively. When he’s on, he’ll knock down 3-pointers in bunches, show some savvy in the post, and even attack the basket from the perimeter. When he’s off, he’ll airball open looks with his feet set and throw wild floaters in the general direction of the basket that have no chance of going in. He’s a good passer for a big, but that comes and goes at times as well.
Defensively, Kaminsky is not good. He’s very lazy closing out, often letting offensive players shoot right over his head without so much as lifting an arm. He doesn’t have great length or lateral agility, so any defensive production from Kaminsky is borne out pure effort, but he doesn’t give that effort very frequently, particularly if he’s struggling on the offensive end. That same inconsistency shows on the boards as well. He’ll battle with bigger bodies for rebounds when he’s feeling himself, and he’ll get pushed around when he’s off his game.
In general, Kaminsky is a very streaky player that’ll tantalize you with a few breakout games interspersed between a bunch of duds. He’s rather emotional, frequently letting makes and misses dictate how much effort he puts into the rest of the game, something he’s admitted to in the past. He also gets caught up in arguing with officials more than he should. He tends to play best when there is little pressure to perform well, which explains why he always plays better once the Hornets are all but eliminated from postseason contention.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kaminsky and it makes you wonder why James Jones decided to add him to the Phoenix roster while there were still other alternatives in free agency. Perhaps he believes that Monty Williams might be able to coax the “end-of-season” version of Frank out more often than it happened in Charlotte. And I’m sure that Frank’s three point shooting (36% last season, 34.9% career) had much to do with it as Phoenix definitely needs to add long distance shooting to the squad.
Hopefully, a change of scenery will do him good but we can’t expect that. As he, Saric, Deandre Ayton and Aron Baynes are presently the only four bigs on the roster, his consistency problems could create an even bigger problem for the Suns if they don’t add another PF/C to the roster before the regular season begins.
Kaminsky was a regular rotation player in his first three seasons under former head coach Steve Clifford (averaging 78 games and just under 8 starts per season) but only played sparingly under new HC James Borrego last season (47 games played, 35 DNPs, no starts). In Phoenix he will likely be Dario Saric’s main backup and get regular rotation minutes again.
If he plays best when he’s under little pressure (as Jonathan indicated), Phoenix might actually be a good landing spot for him. At least in his first season in the Valley there will probably be little - if any - pressure to push hard for the playoffs.
At his point, fans should consider Frank as a reclamation project and be hopeful that Monty Williams is up to the task of turning Kaminsky into the best version of himself on a nightly basis.
Many thanks to Jonathan DeLong for providing us with a lot of great info on Frank!