If you watched any Kentucky basketball last year, you know that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is really good. So good in fact, that he should be the No. 2 pick in this year's NBA draft.
Yet for reasons I don't quite understand Michael Jordan and the Bobcats aren't interested in MKG.
Jordan should know better then to pass on Kidd-Gilchrist. When he was in college, the common joke was that the only person who could stop Michael Jordan was Dean Smith (his coach). MKG was in a similar situation at Kentucky.
According to Rivals.com, Kidd-Gilchrist was the No. 3 overall high school prospect in the class of 2011. Generally a prospect ranked that highly would be his team's star.
The problem? Kentucky also nabbed No. 2 overall prospect and consensus No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, No. 5 overall prospect Marquis Teague, and returning stars Terrance Jones, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb.
How could anyone expect a freshman like Kidd-Gilchrist to dominate when his coach can recruit a team like that? He realized this and decided to devote himself to playing team basketball.
His defense was relentless. He often defended the opponent's best player regardless of position. He can guard four positions at a high level, but he was often overshadowed by playing next to Davis, the best defensive player college basketball has seen in years.
His defense is so advanced for a college player that many have compared him to a sane Ron Artest. A defender like that, especially in today's NBA is one of the most valuable commodities a team can have.
He doesn't exactly slack on offense either. While he only averaged 11.8 points per game, he did it shooting a very efficient 49.1 percent from the field. Kentucky's offense was built around Davis and Jones, and Marquis Teague handled the ball often as the team's point guard.
That means Kidd-Gilchrist managed to put up almost 12 points per game efficiently often as his team's fourth option. And he never once complained about it.
Scouts don't like his three-point shot, which is understandable considering he shot just 25.5 percent from long range. But you can teach shooting — Kawhi Leonard shot 25 percent from long range in college but improved to 37.6 percent in his rookie year and 45 percent in the playoffs for the San Antonio Spurs. Kidd-Gilchrist may never be deadly from long range, but he can at least work to become average.
With his driving ability though, Kidd-Gilchrist won't need a jump shot too often. Nobody in the draft can get to the basket with as much physicality as Kidd-Gilchrist, which will allow him to draw a ton of fouls in the NBA.
While he's not an elite scorer right now, he has all of the tools to become one at the next level if given the chance. His Kentucky team might have more raw talent than the Bobcats team that's ignoring him. As their featured scorer he could put up 20 points per game.
His best tool though is his relentless drive. If there are any flaws in his game, Kidd-Gilchrist will work harder than anyone to fix them. Coaches rave about his work ethic and desire to get better. He's going to be the best player he can possibly be.
That's the sort of player a young team like the Bobcats need. Sharp shooters like Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes might be tempting, but they're both one dimensional, and guys like that are a dime a dozen.
Kansas' Thomas Robinson deserves some consideration, but he's not going to be a star. His size is questionable, he spent two years on the bench (an immediate red flag) and he relies far too much on his athleticism which won't be nearly as big of an advantage in the NBA. He's not the kind of player they need.
They need someone who will produce, who will lead, and who will do anything to win.
That's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in a nutshell. He's the safest player in the draft, but not in a way that limits what he's capable of. At worst, Kidd-Gilchrist will be an excellent glue guy who will help your team win games.
At his best he'll be a two-way star, someone who can score 20 points per game and lock down anyone on the other team. I think this is where he'll end up. As a featured option on offense he will thrive and his defense isn't in question at all.
Getting away from Kentucky will unlock his true potential. He subjugated his game to help his team, but in the NBA with lesser teammates he'll have a chance to show just how talented he really is. If his team needs him to be their top scorer he'll do it, but if his team is loaded with offensive stars he's perfectly capable of taking a backseat. How many players of his caliber will do that?
The Bobcats shouldn't try to get too cute with this pick. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the second best player in the draft and therefore should be taken with the No. 2 pick. Charlotte doesn't have specific needs, they need basketball players. There are players with higher ceilings, but none give the total package of Kidd-Gilchrist.
He's going to be an excellent NBA player. Beal, Barnes and Robinson all have a chance to be, but they all have a decent chance to be busts. If the Bobcats want to get back to respectability they won't take that chance. They'll take the guy who will definitely be a contributor for a decade in the NBA. They should take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
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