Rookie Frank Kaminsky fits Hornets’ future plans

Hornets' first-round pick Frank Kaminsky was the consensus National Player of the Year last season.

Bob Donnan/Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There’s no question about it: Michael Jordan is the main reason why Frank Kaminsky is now a Charlotte Hornet instead of Justise Winslow or Devon Booker.

Everybody knows the lack of success Jordan has had in selecting players in the NBA Draft. In fact, Jordan’s missteps date back all the way to 1987, when he wanted the Chicago Bulls to select fellow Tar Heel Joe Wolf instead of future Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. This isn’t news.

However, those past draft picks were immediately brought to mind after the Hornets took Kaminsky, a slow 7-foot-1 big man, but one who has a solid offensive game over Winslow, the Duke product who fell to Charlotte with the ninth pick despite being projected as a top five or six pick.

How could the Hornets pass up on a player that many NBA experts feel could be a superstar in a few years? How could they draft their third straight power forward from the Big 10 after one has already been traded (Noah Vonleh) and the other (Cody Zeller) has been shopped around extensively?

All that being said, and much of it is right on the mark, it is understandable why Jordan chose Kaminsky.

Don’t misunderstand: Nobody believed general manager Rich Cho when he said late Thursday that they had Kaminsky rated higher than Winslow. If that is indeed true, then that’s a scary scenario in its own right. Cho also said last week that regardless of who was available that the team would take the highest-rated player.

That didn’t happen.

Even so, taking Kaminsky in an odd way makes a little bit of sense.

He has a very high basketball IQ. He understands the game and he learned it for four years at Wisconsin under Bo Ryan, who is regarded by most as one of the top coaches in the collegiate ranks. And he does have a solid offensive game. There wasn’t a single player in college that could stop him last year, including three of the top six players taken in this year’s draft. As a result, he was the consensus National Player of the Year.

More importantly, Kaminsky reminds Jordan of Josh McRoberts, who was so instrumental in propelling the Hornets to the playoffs two seasons ago. McRoberts was the guy that made the offense and defense go. Head coach Steve Clifford would agree.

However, after Cho and the rest of the front office upset him by not making McRoberts a timely free-agent offer, he left for the Miami Heat. The impact of that departure is still being felt. The offense was a shadow of itself last season. Point guard Kemba Walker is a shoot-first, pass-second type of point guard. The problem is Walker was the second-worst shooter in the NBA last season.

With Kaminsky, Charlotte gets a guy that can rebound and, more importantly, shoot well from 3-point range, which unclogs the middle where center Al Jefferson does his work — exactly what McRoberts did. Kaminsky is also the type of player that can come in and immediately help the worst offensive team in the NBA. There’s no guarantee Winslow or Booker would be able to do that. Many experts question Winslow’s outside shot and Booker’s inability to create his own shot off the dribble.

Will the selection of Kaminsky increase season ticket sales? Hardly. Nonetheless, he is also a guy that can be a key member of a starting unit for 10 years, even if he is the third or fourth option offensively, especially if Zeller is eventually traded, as most seem to think will happen sooner or later.

In a word, the pick of Kaminsky was safe. Little risk, little reward.

After having nearly every draft pick during the Jordan-Cho Era be a bust, this was a safeguard move, and a predictable one.