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2020-21 Kings Season Preview: Frank Kaminsky

Is Kaminsky the stretch 5 the Kings have been seeking?

Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our 2020 Kings Season Preview series, where we’ll be looking ahead to what this season will bring for every member of this Sacramento roster and pondering both best and worst-case scenarios. Today, let’s continue with Frank Kaminsky.

How did he get here?

Kaminsky comes to the Kings after one season in Phoenix, which he missed most of due to a left patella stress fracture. He played 39 games, averaging 9.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest while shooting 53.0 percent on 2-pointers and 33.1 percent on 3-pointers. He signed with Sacramento for a one-year veteran’s minimum deal, of which only $50,000 is guaranteed, per James Ham of NBC Sports.

What is his best-case scenario for 2020-21?

Kaminsky recaptures the shooting success of his later Charlotte days and becomes a true stretch five, allowing the Kings to go five out in their second unit and giving De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton endless amounts of room to operate. He fills in mostly as a trailing 3-point shooter on the break, but the threat of his jumper is still enough to keep an extra defender out of the paint. Kaminsky has traditionally been an excellent passer and has a low turnover rate, both of which make him an extra value add on the offensive end. He simply knows how to move with and without the ball in the halfcourt, a skill that can’t go overlooked on a young team.

Having a stretch five will be particularly useful when Marvin Bagley III returns, as Bagley is a classic rim-runner, and Kaminsky could help him play his best position on offense while also trading assignments on the other tend. On defense, Kaminsky’s teams have been league average with him on the floor each of the last two seasons, and even that would be a huge boon to the Kings in his best-case scenario. Once again, he just reads the floor well and despite not making plays in terms and blocks and steals, Kaminsky helps the Kings with his positional defending. After all, you can’t teach a guy to be seven feet tall.

The preseason has already given a taste of what Kaminsky’s best-case scenario could be. He can use his size to frustrate post-bound centers on the other end while pulling them away from the basket as a trailer. The Kings also like to give the ball to their center at the top of the key at the start of possessions, and Kaminsky has to be guarded there. He also opened some driving lanes for his teammates with his spacing. If that three ball falls, Kaminsky can be a reliable offensive player.

What is his worst-case scenario?

Kaminsky simply hasn’t been hitting his threes at a high enough clip for most of his career. Over five seasons, he has shot 34.9 percent from distance. If he isn’t in the 36-37 percent range, defenders won’t respect him enough to put a body on him, thus eliminating the spacing that he can theoretically provide.

Rebounding could be a big issue for Kaminsky as well. He’s never been a strong rebounder on either end, and he isn’t a box-out guy whose teams rebound well even though he himself doesn’t collect the boards. Those concerns would be magnified next to the other power forwards in the Kings rotation, since none of them are good on the glass. The worst-case scenario for Kaminsky is that the Kings are slaughtered on the boards with him in the game, leading to putbacks and making it impossible for the team to get out and run.

The rebounding failures are further compounded by Kaminsky’s general defensive struggles, and that results in Kaminsky being nearly unplayable, especially with Nemanja Bjelica, Bagley, Hassan Whiteside, Richaun Holmes, and even Harrison Barnes ahead of him in the frontcourt rotation.

Kaminsky certainly hasn’t panned out as a player worthy of his lottery pick status. It’s too late for that, now that he’s 27. But the Kings were clearly looking for a stretch big to play the 5, one who could credibly defend centers better than Bjelica, and Kaminsky at least fits that archetype. He’s also a smart player, which will help on a team with a lot of young players.

If he can shoot, he’ll find a place in Sacramento. Otherwise, there just aren’t enough things that Kaminsky does well to earn a role in the Kings rotation.