Frank Kaminsky's 2015-16 season wasn't among the best rookie performances of the year. He posted averages of 7.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game, while only converting 41.0 percent of his field goal attempts. There are certain aspects of the game that need improvement for Kaminsky to become a reliable power forward for the Charlotte Hornets and record better averages next season.
That being said, Frank the Tank was a solid part of the rotation for a 48-win team. Something like that can't be said about most rookie campaigns.
With Kaminsky drafted as a stretch-four, it's understandable that an evaluation of his shooting is where one should start. To be frank (no pun intended), it was mediocre.
His looks from deep have been off (33.7 percent for the season). The rookie tends to be hesitant at taking them, too. Meanwhile, his mid-range game has practically been non-existent (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).
Kaminsky gets most of his chances at the 3-ball above the break since that's where he'll play pick-and-pops with guards. The 3-pointer up top is also happens to be where he shot most poorly as you can see in the shot chart above. The opposition treats these screen-and-rolls with drop-backs, a sign that the defense isn't concerned about the screener's outside shooting.
To make matters worse, Big Frank doesn't have the fastest release so opponents can chase him off the line when he lines it up too slowly. Some players do so blatantly in order to force a drive by Kaminsky, and the power forward himself then doesn't mind pump faking into a drive:
Driving the ball, however, is another area at which the Wisconsin product struggled. Among the 114 players who drove to the basket at least 100 times this season, Kaminsky had the lowest field goal percentage at 32.7 percent, per NBA Stats.
That isn't to say that Kaminsky can't improve his touch from the 3-point line. The Badger increased his percentage from downtown every year he was at Wisconsin. During his senior year, Big Frank made 41.6 percent of his 3-point shots, compared to 28.6 percent in his freshman year. Moreover, it would be reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt after he had to shoot from the college 3-point line for four years straight. Getting adjusted to the NBA 3-pointer can take time.
Furthermore, in league history only 17 players taller than 6'9" have attempted a 3-pointer in every game in their rookie year and made at least 36 percent of them. Five of them started their NBA careers at 27 or later, per Basketball Reference, and thus were already developed players.
There also is some hope to his funky game off the dribble. While the "pump fake and a spin move on the drive" routine can be predictable, the 23-year-old does have a deep bag of tricks. He has shown an innate feel to the game by finishing a drive (or a post-up) with a nifty fake or two.
Certain fours have a disadvantage against Big Frank due to his quickness and ability to handle the ball. He can burn them with moves like this one.
That advantage would be even bigger though if Kaminsky could play any minutes at the five. The problem is that he isn't likely to. Armed only with a 6'11" wingspan at 7'0", Frank the Tank doesn't have any of the physical attributes that a rim protecting center requires. Unless you want a game of 1.2 points per possession for both teams, it's hard to see him manning the middle.
That's where the experience of this year's playoffs comes in.
As previously covered here and here, at this point opponents feel safe about playing a wing at the four spot and having him face Kaminsky. His hot third quarter in Game 3 notwithstanding, Kaminsky can't punish backcourt players on offense.
As it could have been expected, he didn't gain an advantage with offensive rebounds, he didn't beat them up in the post, nor did he score on smaller players with his drives. Kaminsky succeed at some of that from time to time, but ultimately the Miami Heat only benefited from this match-up.
To Kaminsky's credit, he can hold up on defense against certain small-ball fours. He is very capable of closing out on a shooter after dropping back on the initial pick-and-roll.
Luol Deng might have roasted him with a few threes but the flame-spitting Blue Devil pretty much did that to everyone on the Hornets roster. Moreover, Kaminsky remaining competent on defense helped Charlotte execute Steve Clifford's plan of going big and packing the paint against Miami.
All in all, Big Frank's mediocre postseason of 7.1 points on 30.4 percent shooting was indicative of possible worries for the Charlotte Hornets in the future. Until he improves his game, other teams can hit Charlotte with this small-ball treatment and reap the benefits.
The skill and (supposedly) the touch of a Ryan Anderson-type of player is there. For it to materialize though, Kaminsky could use a quicker shot release (not to mention the obviously needed improvement in 3-point precision). A part of the reason why teams can drop back on pick-and-rolls with him as the screener is the fact that you can make it back in time to chase Kaminsky off the 3-point line.
He also has to figure out his options in the driving game.
To put it into perspective, Kaminsky registered more drives for the season, per NBA Stats, than Nicolas Batum — who played 740 more minutes. The Wisconsin Badger is very capable of putting the ball on the floor even though he hasn't been efficient with it. Some Kaminsky-like savvy will be needed when finishing them (49.2 percent at the rim is, um, bad) due to his physical limitations.
Even though the rookie showcased an array of floaters and fakes in the lane before trying to finish, he probably could use a reliable go-to shot when attacking the rim. Until he finds one on drives and in the post, he'll have to match up against small-ball fours daring him to over-power them.
What's next for Frank Kaminsky?
With an unpredictable summer ahead for the Hornets, one can't be certain about Kaminsky's role next season. Marvin Williams's contract is up so there isn't a definite starting power forward on the team's 2016-17 roster right now.
Given the direction and the style of play of this season's Hornets, you would expect general manager Rich Cho to add a flexible 3-point shooting four to the roster. Starting Kaminsky would be an unlikely experiment. But he does have the opportunity to stay with the team until 2018-19 on his rookie contract, improve in the aforementioned aspects of the game and take hold of that spot in the future.
Frank the Tank did join the league after his senior year in college which typically suggests that a sudden improvement isn't so likely. However, in Kaminsky's case he doesn't necessarily have to make unexpected strides. It's more about him utilizing the talents he has and figuring out how to use them successfully.