Phoenix Suns: Breaking Down Frank Kaminsky’s Rise as a Role Player

Phoenix Suns, Frank Kaminsky. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Frank Kaminsky. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports /

After a week filled with off-court issues, it felt like a low blow to hear that the Phoenix Suns also lost Deandre Ayton to the injury bug, with him suffering a right leg contusion. Although Ayton came back to play against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, he failed to suit up for the game before against the New Orleans Pelicans, and against the Atlanta Hawks most recently.

But thankfully, and unexpected hero rose to the occasion.

As Phoenix’s watchful protector, sacred guardian, and “dark knight,” Frank Kaminsky stepped up huge this week, and seemingly saved the day.

Against the Pelicans, Kaminsky finished with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and a career-high four steals. Even while coming off the bench, he finished with the second highest plus/minus on the team, impacting the game at each end of the floor.

Last night against the Hawks, Kaminsky delivered with 16 points, four assists, and six rebounds. Shooting 7-10 from the field and 2-3 from deep, his scoring efficiency reflected that of Ayton’s even on his best nights.

The Suns won both those contests largely thanks to Kaminsky’s contributions. With that, he just elevated himself from a backend reserve, into a true role player.

How has Frank Kaminsky Played so well for the Phoenix Suns?

When looking at Kaminsky’s game, his box scores tell you a great deal to begin with. Scoring at high clip, defending, and finding his teammates, Kaminsky’s versatility as a big makes him most useful. No matter the scenario, his skillset presents him an easily pluggable asset to throw out onto the floor.

But while going beyond the numbers, his on-court chemistry with his teammates stands out as his most notable attribute relating to his ascent.

Whenever Kaminsky enters the game, especially at the offensive end, it looks like he and Chris Paul share the same brain. Spacing the floor with his shooting, or rolling decisively after a screen, he always positions himself to either score, or draw another defender to then kick the ball out for an open shot.

When Ayton returns, Kaminsky will need to take a step back once again. At the same time, JaVale McGee still carries great value with his size and athleticism as another big man for the Suns.

But regardless, Kaminsky now owns a well-cemented spot within Phoenix’s rotation. He might not play double digit minutes every night, but any time the Suns need a spark, watch for Monty Williams to give him the nod.

As Paul noted, people forget how Kaminsky absolutely dominated college basketball seven years ago for Wisconsin. He won the 2014-15 John R. Wooden Award, led the Badgers to the NCAA Championship game, and was selected ninth overall a few months after.

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Kaminsky’s professional basketball resume might not look as impressive as his collegiate one thus far, but he clearly knows how to win, and how to perform during big time moments. You always need guys like that when trying to win a championship, and if Kaminsky keeps his contributions up, he might begin to carve out some NBA-level glory as well.