2016-17 Season in Review | Frank Kaminsky
By Sam Perley, hornets.com
2016-17 Review | Frank Kaminsky
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A strong finish to Frank Kaminsky’s sophomore NBA season in 2016-17 provided the Charlotte Hornets organization with promising glimpses of the now 24-year-old power forward. Taken with the ninth overall pick in the draft two summers ago, Kaminsky made a handful of tremendous strides this year that has him and the team set up well for the upcoming future.
No Longer a Rookie
After sitting out the first two games of the season with a strained right foot, Kaminsky debuted on Oct. 29, eventually posting averages of 11.5 points on 41.4 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 16 appearances through the month of November. This stretch also included a pair of 20-point games for Kaminsky, matching his total from all of last year.
Some Midseason Struggles
Kaminsky’s second full month of the season certainly wasn’t the kindest as he mustered 9.0 points on just 33.8 percent shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 16 total December outings. His efficiency would improve a bit in January though with averages of 9.1 points on 40.3 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 15 appearances for the Hornets.
As the Hornets embarked on a three-game Western Conference road trip in late January, Kaminsky’s season quickly started trending upward after he was inserted into the starting lineup following an injury to Cody Zeller. He totaled a then career-high 24 points and seven rebounds in a 126-111 road loss to the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 1 and topped that mark two weeks later with a 27-point showing in a 90-85 road defeat to the Toronto Raptors.
Kaminsky would eventually be selected to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend, making him the 10th different player in franchise history to garner this particular honor. He would go on to finish with a team-high 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting in Team USA’s 150-141 loss to Team World. Kaminsky also connected on nine three-pointers this game, becoming just one of three players to ever reach this threshold since the event’s inception in 1994.
The momentum continued for Kaminsky in the second half of the season as he exploded for 23 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in a 99-85 road victory over the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 25. All in all, the former Wisconsin Badger racked up five 20-point games in February, just one fewer than he had accumulated in his entire NBA career prior to the start of the month. He also entered February with just one career double-double, yet managed to tally four such performances during this stretch.
Late-Season Shoulder Injury
After averaging 18.1 points on 43.2 percent shooting, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals over 11 appearances in a breakout February, Kaminsky’s final full month of the season got off to a rough start as he exited the team’s 120-103 road loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 2 with a shoulder injury. He was later diagnosed with a left AC joint sprain, forcing him to miss Charlotte’s next five games.
Kaminsky returned to action on March 13 and finished off the season with averages of 12.2 points on 39.3 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists over the team’s final 16 games.
Kaminsky improved on a number of his rookie-season marks including scoring (11.7 points), rebounding (4.5), assists (2.2), steals (0.6) and free-throw percentage (75.6 percent) over 75 total appearances (16 starts).
After Feb. 1, Kaminsky ranked third on the Hornets in scoring (14.6 points) and second in made three-pointers per game (2.1). He was also one of three NBA sophomores to play 60-or-more games and average at least 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per outing this season (Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic).
Amongst the league’s seven-footers, only Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez (134) drained more three-pointers this season than Kaminsky did (116). The Hornets big man also had the third-most made three-point field goals by any second-year player and was tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with 32 double-digit scoring performances off the bench this year as well.
2017-18 Season Outlook
Kaminsky has a guaranteed contract through the 2017-18 season and a team option for the 2018-19 campaign prior to the expiration of his rookie deal. During exit interviews on April 12, Kaminsky reflected on his second NBA season and where improvements can be made moving forward.
“I envisioned more consistency than was there. [There was] too many high to lows. That’s just something I’m going to have to work on a lot this summer,” said Kaminsky “If our team is going to take a big step forward next season, I think I’m going to have to be a big part of that.”
“I thought Frank was up and down this year,” added Hornets General Manager Rich Cho. “I think if you talked to him, he would say the same thing. He did start playing a lot better in February and then he got hurt a little bit. His play went down and then he got back to full strength and started playing better. I think he started getting a lot more confident. You could see it in his play. [He] was a lot more assertive and aggressive. Hopefully, that’ll carry over to next season.”