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The love-hate relationship of Frank Kaminsky

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Frank Kaminsky is one of the most polarizing players on the Charlotte Hornets’ roster. How did it get this way?

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

I am sure about many things.

I am sure that Malik Monk has potential, as does Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham. I am also confident that Kemba Walker is the best Charlotte Hornet of all time. I’m certain Cody Zeller is better than Dwight Howard (yes, I said it), and I’m sure Jeremy Lamb will take another step forward this season.

But I have absolutely no idea what to think of Frank Kaminsky.

Kaminsky is interesting, to say the least. The 9th overall pick in the 2015 draft has been one of the most inconsistent players on the Charlotte Hornets for three seasons now. He isn’t a traditional NBA center by any stretch of the imagination. He can’t rebound and hardly gets points from posting up. Rather, he is a shooter reminiscent of Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks. Because of this, Hornets fans are split on whether he will be a part of the core moving forward.

He also has his own podcast on the Barstool Sports network, but I will get to that later.

I’m not here to voice my concerns over who the Hornets should have taken with the 9th pick back in 2015. Hindsight is always 20/20 and to suggest that Rich Cho and Michael Jordan would know the future--in spite how great they are--would simply be wrong and unfair.

The inconsistency in Kaminsky’s craft is where the real talking points are. You cannot help but acknowledge the volatility in the number of points he put up game by game. In his last five games of the 2017-18 regular season, Kaminsky scored 16, 6, 10, 2, and 21 points, respectively.

Kaminsky himself knows that his attitude can completely change games sometimes. In a post-game press conference in November of last season, he said:

“There are games where my approach and my attitude aren’t the best; I get down on myself and I let that take me away from what I can do. So when I just go out there and play with energy and confidence, I feel like that’s when I’ll take off.”

When a player is inconsistent, they want to see him working to get better, and when he promoted his podcast instead of posting workout videos, fans (unfairly) concluded he cared more about podcasting than getting better. However, Hornets Chief Operating Officer Pete Guelli attempted to dispel the allegations when he tweeted a picture of Kaminsky working out in the Hornets’ practice, and Kaminsky has poked fun at the misconception as well.

Despite this, many fans remain skeptical of his potential.

Kaminsky is one of the very few 7-footers in the NBA that cannot effectively rebound the basketball. In fact, Kaminsky has declined--at least statistically--as a rebounder each year since entering the NBA.

As a rookie, he averaged a respectable 4.1 rebounds per game. In his sophomore campaign, that figure slightly rose to 4.5 per game. But last season, it dropped to 3.6. Let’s compare this to the not-quite-6-feet tall Kemba Walker, who’s career rebound average is 3.7 per game. Yikes.

Kaminsky has improved elsewhere, though. His 3-point shot has steadily improved since his first two NBA seasons when he averaged 33 and 32 percent, respectively. Last season he put up a career high 38 percent from behind the arc.

He has also learned to dunk with more authority.

Overall, Kaminsky has improved in areas but stagnated in other areas, and this adds to the inconsistency he tends to play with.

But this wouldn’t be a Frank Kaminsky story without mentioning his personality. A lot of fans undoubtedly enjoy his sense of humor. On the 2015 NBA Rookie survey (which is a super-fun way to learn what NBA players think about other players), Kaminsky was voted by his peers as the second funniest rookie in the 2015 class, just behind Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Kaminsky even took over the Hornets’ Snapchat story before last season started, joking around with a couple of different players.

He’s also outspoken. Kaminsky weighed in on amateur athletics and not only said he believes college athletes should be paid but even battled Dan Dakich on Twitter about the topic.

The icing on the cake has to go back to 2015 when he said the following at the Hornets media day in 2015:

“I’m not weird.”

Anybody that has dealt with any weird people in any capacity know that the number one defense from a weird person is “I’m not weird.”

Kaminsky’s interests are undeniably unique, but recently those interests and the degree to which he pursues them have raised some questions.

As previously mentioned, Kaminsky has a podcast aptly named “Pros and Joes with Frank Kaminsky.” That isn’t the controversy. What upset fans was a tweet sent from the podcast’s Twitter account in which there was a poll that clearly intended to degrade the WNBA.

Regardless of whether you support the WNBA, this was a bad look and the internet reacted as such. It was deleted within a half-hour.

I get it. Some people don’t find the WNBA entertaining or fun. And frankly (pun intentional), if you aren’t interested in watching WNBA games, then don’t. Nobody is asking you to. What is most telling isn’t the lack of interest in the WNBA, but rather that people’s willingness to make bad jokes towards the league seems to be at an all-time high.

The first to respond to the tweet was Swarm and Sting’s Noah Elmore:

Hornets blogger Noah Elmore of Swarm and Sting sums it up well in an article talking about the tweet as it first broke:

”The NBA’s biggest stars have all spoken out as advocates for the talent in the WNBA. Clearly, the WNBA is respected by major NBA players. Why is it so difficult for Kaminsky to acknowledge this?”

Wednesday night, after Elmore tweeted at Kaminsky about the deleted poll and got a response. Kaminsky denounced the tweet and defended himself against the claims of sexism and misogyny:

I’m not here to make accusations or claims against Kaminsky. I do agree with what he says in these tweets to an extent, and I also believe he did not tweet the poll.

Nonetheless, Barstool’s history of misogyny is well documented and Kaminsky continues to grant his name’s gravity to its platforms and outlets. The podcast is his. He retweets and promotes it. There is no getting around that, and it only serves to complicate this story.

It should be noted that while Kaminsky himself has denounced the tweet and poll, Pros and Joes Podcast has not acknowledged either outside of deleting the offending tweet.

It doesn’t matter where you stand on the WNBA as a whole. However, if you resort to sexist jokes to denounce it, you are doing nothing more than telling on yourself. Even if Kaminsky didn’t tweet out the poll, his active involvement and support for Barstool Sports has led to a decline in support from Hornets fans this offseason. Kaminsky’s off-the-court question marks have been nothing short of inconsistent. And just like his style of play, it’s led to a lot of mixed feelings about him.

Whether the team decides to move on from Kaminsky this summer is a another question. As for now, while it is encouraging to see Kaminsky in the gym improving his jump-shot, the podcast’s tweet and direct backlash towards fans from Kaminsky himself makes me a bit anxious.

And from a guy who said earlier in the season that Twitter had become one of the most annoying things in his life, it’s discouraging to see something as derogatory as a WNBA joke from an account tied directly to his name.

All this sheds some doubt regarding his future heading into the season. None of this, from his performances as a player to his pursuits off the court, are particularly damning, but it leaves me unsure of where I stand on Frank as a player and person.