Frank Kaminsky’s absence has hurt the Phoenix Suns

Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns lost Frank Kaminsky to injury, and the big man is out indefinitely. His absence has hurt the team more than many fans realize.

The news faded from the headlines almost as quickly and unexpectedly as it hit them: Frank Kaminsky III is out indefinitely for the Phoenix Suns with a right patella stress fracture. (That’s a broken knee cap for those not up on their 8th grade anatomy.)

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but the last game he played was against the Sacramento Kings on 12/28, where he only saw the court for seven minutes, so it must have been around this time.

There is no timetable or his return, but typically these injuries sideline players for at least six to eight weeks.

Kaminsky’s production with Phoenix has ebbed and flowed, but mostly flowed. He is averaging 11 points per game, but has delivered some huge scoring nights along the way. Out of the 31 games he played before his injury, he had seven games where he scored 19 or more.

Frank the Tank started 13 times this season out of necessity, but if he were healthy now, he would provide what the Suns need more than anything: scoring off the bench.

In the previous seven games where Kaminsky has been out, the Phoenix Suns have managed a measly 25.6 bench points per game, good for 29th in the league. Remember, that number takes into account the team’s typical starter, Deandre Ayton, coming off the bench in four of those contests where he contributed an average of 13.3 points himself.

There just isn’t a lot of scoring potential Monty Williams can point to off the bench, and that dearth is more prevalent with Frank Kaminsky in street clothes.

With Deandre Ayton and Aron Baynes now tag-teaming the center position, Kaminsky would be free to shift to his more natural spot at the stretch 4. He and Dario Saric could split time in this role depending on who has the hot hand, before Mikal Bridges comes in to finish the game at power forward in the mighty Rubio-Booker-Oubre-Bridges-Ayton lineup.

Kaminsky’s injury news was met with a wide range of reactions, but because he isn’t in the upper tier of players, I got the feeling fans underestimated how badly the Phoenix Suns would miss him.

To be fair, it has been easy news to dismiss considering all attention being paid to Deandre Ayton’s return and Monty Williams’ constant tinkering with the lineup and rotation.

The last we heard from the Suns was that Kaminsky would be reevaluated in four weeks from January 4. Hopefully he can find his way back into game readiness by March.

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Until then, someone else will need to step up and deliver some much-needed points off the bench.