Let's all just forget about Anthony Davis for a moment as it is a lock that he will be the No. 1 pick when the 2012 NBA draft rolls around on June 28. We know what the 6'10" center, who led the Kentucky Wildcats to the 2012 National Championship, brings to the table and what he could become in the NBA.
However the player we could be talking about the most in 10 years from the 2012 draft class is Davis' freshman teammate under John Calipari, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The 6'7" Kidd-Gilchrist has separated himself from the rest of the draft class and is considered in the top tier of NBA prospects along with Davis, Florida guard Bradley Beal and Kansas forward Thomas Robinson. With Davis expected to go No. 1 to the New Orleans Hornets, the other three players could wind up going to any of the following: the Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards or Cleveland Cavaliers (owners of picks No. 2-4).
While he may not have the perimeter offensive abilities of Beal or the strong low post presence of Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist has easily the best motor of any player in the draft and was the quintessential leader for the National Champion Wildcats.
Listed at around 210 lbs., Kidd-Gilchrist is wiry strong, and while he was able to muscle his way in and grab rebounds in college, he will need to add several pounds to his frame if he hopes to bang inside in the NBA. You can tell just by watching this video though that he has the work ethic and drive to do what it takes to be ready for the rigors of the NBA game.
With a 6'11" wingspan and excellent athleticism, Kidd-Gilchrist was a lock-down defender for the Wildcats. Couple that with his aggressive mentality and toughness, and you have a player who is ready to contribute big minutes on the defensive end as a rookie next year.
Where should Michael Kidd-Gilchrist go in the 2012 NBA Draft?
Kidd-Gilchrist also brings that aggressive nature to the other side of his game as most of his offensive ability is predicated on his ability to attack the basket and grab offensive rebounds. He is a superb ball-handler for a kid of his size, and he runs the break very well. When he is on the wing he can get to the basket with ease and throw down highlight dunks like this one.
He finishes very well through contact, and with consistent reps on his low-post game, MKG could dominate smaller guards and small forwards on the low block in the future.
The weakest part of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's game is his jump shot as he has an unorthodox shooting motion that is very herky-jerky. He often doesn't square himself to the basket, and it caused him to shoot just 25.5 percent from behind the arc last season.
I had a chance to see him play live several times in high school at St. Patrick's, and I can tell you that the good news is that he has improved extensively on his shooting ability since his high school days. You know that he is going to put in the necessary work to improve his shot at the level necessary to score in the NBA, and with several years under his belt, I expect him to be making closer to 40 percent of three-pointers.
While he won't go first overall and he could drop all the way to the Cavaliers at No. 4, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the potential to be the best all-around player selected in the 2012 NBA draft. Going to Cleveland could actually end up being the best-case scenario for MKG, as he would be reunited with high school teammate Kyrie Irving whom he describes as his "best friend" according to Slam Online.
While Anthony Davis is a slam-dunk to be the No. 1 overall pick when the draft begins on June 28, don't be surprised if by the time it is all said in done it is Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist we are talking about as the best player drafted in 2012.