Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Exposing the Flaws in the Kentucky Star's Game

Adam MerkleContributor IIIJune 27, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Anthony Davis #23 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats react late in the second half while taking on the Kansas Jayhawks in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been winning long before he joined up with Kentucky's John Calipari for a one-and-done freshman super season with the almost certain No. 1 lottery pick teammate in Anthony Davis, and this culminated in a National Championship victory.

Saying that MKG's true value doesn't show up an a stat sheet is one of the biggest cliches in all of sports. Truly the best part about playing in coach Cal's system with the Wildcats, according to an anonymous NBA scout whose team might actually draft a Kentucky product, is that the system the players buy into actually makes them look better than they are. 

“The interesting thing, and its not a knock, but there is this Kentucky mystique that Calipari has done a great job creating and perpetuating. The best part about Kentucky’s system is that [it] can hide so many flaws at first glance."

He went on to mention how MKG's defensive abilities weren't really all that they were hyped up to be because of the presence of Davis in the middle to take away the drive. 

But will the Kentucky Effect rear its ugly head and cost a team a potential lottery pick because Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't live up to all of the lofty expectations that he has been expected to fulfill?

I believe that MKG has some glaring flaws, which could potentially impact him should he not make the necessary adjustments to this game.

The first flaw I must point out is big, because it will translate to how effective a scorer MKG will be.

This oddity could potentially make the difference between whether Kidd-Gilchrist ends up as a guy who can score the ball in addition to playing lockdown defense like the Nets' Gerald Wallace or the Sixers' Andre Iguodala, or a guy who is out there just to play perimeter defense like OKC's Thabo Sefolosha.


The hitch in his shot is rather unusual—and ultimately it won't amount to a very consistent jump shot due to the amount of excess movement where his right leg kicks out and proceeds to pull his lower body with him in the shot.

Grantland's Sebastian Pruiti wrote a real nice piece evaluating the wing talent of the draft, and he noticed that MKG just flat-out takes too long to release the ball when shooting and thus he can never really get in a shooting rhythm.

Most shooters like to release their shot when they are at their highest point of elevation, yet Kidd-Gilchrist is often finding himself releasing as gravity pulls him back to the court—and that doesn't translate to a high shooting percentage whatsoever.

Even when he is able to stay straight on good shots, his left side still finds away to drift and fade away from the basket. 

This hinders his game as a jump shooter and it is not a good sign that a big-time small forward talent can't consistently shoot the ball.

Shooting just 25.5 percent at the college level is far from something to write home about and MKG will need to spend his fair share of time in the gym working on his shot should he want to capitalize on his high-profile stature as a first-round draft pick.

If nothing else, because MKG is a sensational athlete with the ability to be a big-name perimeter defender in the league, a lack of fluidity will surely hurt his overall chances at becoming more than just a role player.

The offensive shortcomings in his game are great, but he is a player who is just a physical specimen and his ability to create at the hoop will alone allow him to be scooped up by one of the teams holding a pick within the top 10 in this year's draft.


He knows exactly how to apply his athletic abilities to his defense, and make no mistake about it, his one-on-one defending has been superb in the past, holding opponents to 25.5 percent shooting with a points-per-possession rating of just .610.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Tyshawn Taylor #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks puts up a shot over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz S
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

However, playing in front of the one guy nobody in college basketball wants to see waiting for them in the lane when driving in Kentucky's 6'10 center, Anthony Davis, certainly benefited MKG's defensive statistics as far as players forcing up shots is concerned.

Will Kidd-Gilchrist be able to push himself to the limit in an attempt to strengthen the flaws in his offensive talents?

Or will he crumble and resort to finding himself a comfortable role-playing position as a team's lead defender, where any scoring will just be a welcome addition?

For a guyprojected to go Top 10, perhaps even Top Five, in this year's draft, I for one hope that he embraces these new challenges head-on and works hard to perfect his game so that he can become more than just a quality perimeter defender—and potentially blossom into a future star.