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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Frank Kaminsky

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The reigning Naismith Award winner is a potential lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Here's a look at what he might offer to the Charlotte Hornets.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Introduction

If you follow college basketball, there's a pretty good chance you know who Frank Kaminsky is. The 22-year-old power forward/center made two straight Final Fours with Wisconsin, was a First-Team All-American in 2014-15, just won the Naismith Award as the national player of the year, etc. He had a very productive college career, and now that he's graduated, he'll be getting an opportunity to bring his game to the professional level.

Measurements and Statistics

Height without shoes Height with shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach Body Fat
6' 11.75" 7' 0.75" 231 6'11" 9' 1.5" 9.4

Games Played Minutes/game Points/game Offensive Rebounds/game Defensive Rebounds/game Total Rebounds/game Assists/game Steals/game Blocks/game Turnovers/game Fouls/game
39 33.6 18.8 1.5 6.7 8.2 2.6 0.8 1.5 1.6 1.7

FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT%
6.8 12.5 54.7 5.8 9.9 58.1 1.1 2.6 41.6 4.0 5.1 78.0

Strengths

A lot of Kaminsky's value comes from his shooting ability. He's more than capable of knocking down threes, proving himself a legitimate asset from the perimeter, with a 3-point percentage well above 40 percent in his senior season. Unlike other recent Naismith Award winners like Doug McDermott and Jimmer Fredette, Kaminsky isn't a one-dimensional offensive player, either. Kaminsky has several ways in which he can beat you offensively. He's really good in the pick and roll (especially when popping out for a catch and shoot), he's great running off screens, and he's quick enough to get past most opposing big men on the drive. He's not the most versatile offensive prospect in the draft, but there are a variety of ways in which his NBA team could use him effectively.

Kaminsky's combination of size and straight-line quickness is enough to create matchup issues for opposing teams, which could result in mismatches for teammates that could be easily exploited. This becomes more important when you take his strong passing ability into account, which he often uses to find teammates no matter his spot on the court. Kaminsky doesn't get tunnel vision with the ball and has very good awareness, plus the patience to wait for the right play rather than forcing the ball into troublesome areas. He doesn't turn the ball over often despite his dedication to ball movement, which will help him stay on the floor for NBA teams even during the stretches when his shot won't fall.

He's a pretty smart, heady player too, and his natural instincts are good. He's not an exceptionally great rebounder, but he's going to have success on the boards in the NBA because of his good positioning and strong timing. He's fairly high-motor, which will help him on the offensive glass as well, and he rarely gives up an easy putback on the defensive side.

Weaknesses

For all his quickness and zip on the offensive end, he struggles to use it defensively. He's not great at keeping with his man on dribble drives, and he doesn't defend post moves well, which is especially troubling because he's often easily backed down in the post too. Couple this with his lack of explosive athleticism (and lack of length), and you have a player who doesn't do well in help defense either. This is the portrait of a player who doesn't have a defined role in a well-tuned defensive system. Kaminsky probably won't be the worst defensive player you've ever seen, but he's going to struggle to defend most NBA players.

Furthermore, he doesn't do well in the paint on the opposite end of the ball either, appearing to be a poor finisher near the rim, in the post, or during contested drives. While some of this will be improved with some added strength, he probably doesn't have too much bulk he can reasonably add, and he'd have a lot more to improve anyway, as his control isn't particularly great, and he struggles with getting his shot blocked a little too often.

Unfortunately, not a lot of these weaknesses are things that are easily improved. He's already behind, being a couple years older than most of the players in his draft range, so he'll have fewer of improvement until he reaches his peak, assuming he follows the typical age curve. But more to the point, the things that Kaminsky has to work on aren't things that could come over the span of one offseason. He's already good at shooting and positioning, his body doesn't look like he has much more room to grow, and his basketball IQ is where it should be, having already learned many of the more refined portions of the game. Things like explosiveness, quickness, and defensive footwork are harder to improve, and there's a very good chance that Kaminsky's improvement as an NBA player is only ever incremental.

Fit with Hornets

Frank Kaminsky would, at the very least, offer the shooting that the Hornets have been looking for, especially since he'd be playing a frontcourt position where he'd be stretching the floor a lot. The Hornets could desperately use the spacing that Kaminsky would provide, and he'd bolster their frontcourt rotation with an offensively-minded player who could help out his teammates with ball movement.

Positionally, it only makes a little bit of sense, though. Even after Al Jefferson's contract expires after next season, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, and Noah Vonleh will already all be competing for minutes, and they'd probably like to bolster those prospects with a veteran in the rotation. While Kaminsky could potentially complement their strengths, the Hornets likely would have better use for a player at another position. Or, at the very least, someone who has a higher upside than Kaminsky does. Kaminsky wouldn't be a terrible option for the Hornets, but they could probably find someone who has the potential to offer a lot more with the ninth overall pick.