We didn’t like the Charlotte Hornets’ draft selection of Frank Kaminsky. The sweet-shooting big man has a clear place in the league as a valuable third big man, and could even emerge as a starter with the ideal personnel surrounding him.
Kaminsky the player, basically, had little to do with our appraisal of Charlotte’s pick. What certainly did was the superior talent that remained on the board at No. 9, plus the humbling long-term prospects of Steve Clifford’s roster. Subsequent news that the Hornets turned down an offer of four first-round picks from the Boston Celtics in exchange for the choice they used to draft Kaminsky only made matters worse.
Charlotte bungled the 2015 draft. Even more troubling, though, is the reasoning behind that misstep.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently penned a piece on the Hornets’ awkward balancing act between playing for the present while building for the future. Among a host of interesting quotes, factoids, and nuggets, what most caught our eye was front office higher-up Curtis Polk’s justification for the team refusing trade packages on draft night and ultimately selecting Kaminsky with the ninth overall pick.
“You have two minutes to decide: ‘Do I want to do this trade?’” says Polk, one of five men atop Charlotte’s decision tree. “You don’t have a day. You don’t have hours. After all the intelligence we’d done, we were comfortable with Frank. But now you have two minutes to decide if you make this trade, who you’re gonna take at no. 16, or maybe no. 20, and we haven’t been focusing on that range. In fantasy basketball, it sounds great: ‘Oh my god, they could have gotten all those picks.’ But in the real world, I’m not sure it makes us better.”
Polk’s take makes sense on the surface. Charlotte was awarded the No. 9 pick back on lottery night and used its scouting resources to focus on players who were likely to be available with that choice in the interim. Kaminsky was always going to be a member of that group, as were Myles Turner, Devin Booker, and more.
The problem, though, is that the Hornets honed in only on those mid-to-late lottery prospects, electing against preparing for contingency plans. Draft night is a circus. And though this year’s was ultimately less action-packed than anticipated, it still contained a number of trades, rises, falls, and other surprises.