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Expectations for the second pick in last year's draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Doesn't matter. He won't meet them.
Every year, there are young players that writers rant and rave about that casual fans don't see as anything out of the ordinary. They are usually hard-working and relatively raw, and you would be hard-pressed to find one with any traditional statistical triumphs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of these players.
People have oozed about MKG (what a creative nickname!) since his senior year in high school. He's stoical and almost sombre in his demeanor, which contrasts his style of play in every way imaginable. Kidd-Gilchrist is a pit bull on the court. He hustles, bustles, muscles and tussles for every loose ball on and around the 4700 square feet that make up a basketball court. He's a relentless defender. A terrific athlete. A determined scrapper. A guy you would trust to have your back at a Craigslist meetup.
While Kidd-Gilchrist was expected to go anywhere from second to sixth in the draft, Bobcats fans were caught off-guard when Rich Cho selected him. Not because it was a bad thing, but because it just didn't seem real. Kidd-Gilchrist isn't a player that can change a franchise's future; he's a player that solidifies and complements the pieces around him.
But don't be misled: MKG warranted the second pick he was chosen with.
What would be foolish, however, would be to expect Kidd-Gilchrist to contend for rookie of the year. Heck, it might even be foolish to expect him to make the all-rookie first team. He isn't that type of player.
His statistics will be underwhelming. There's no way around that. He isn't a great shooter or scorer, and traditional statistics cannot measure defense and effort accurately. To fully understand MKG's impact, you kind of have to watch the games. Not particularly fun during this time in the Bobcats' rebuild, but necessary.
This is the main reason that the Bobcats drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It's the only thing he's presently good at.
Kidd-Gilchrist isn't the defensive anchor that Anthony Davis is, but he's far from a consolation prize. He's a good man defender, an above average help defender, and has a knack for playing the passing lanes. It's important to keep in mind that Kidd-Gilchrist is still only 19; he's not as strong or as quick as he will be in the future, and thus nowhere near the elite defender he should become.
But, as mentioned, defense does not show up in conventional statistics. Sure, MKG might average a steal and a half and a block, but these statistics won't show his true impact on this end of the floor.
There will be nights that Kidd-Gilchrist is simply not strong enough to defend his man. You know, the Lebron Jameses, the Carmelo Anthonys, the Paul Pierces and so on. He will be tested on a nightly basis; the most prolific scorers in the NBA today are wing players.
Offense is not Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's strong suit. That isn't to say he's bad at it, he's just not particularly good at it.
At the University of Kentucky, MKG's offense was varied. John Calipari ran some plays for him, but the majority of his points came from hustle plays and in transition. Expect more of the same with Mike Dunlap at the helm. Kidd-Gilchrist is incredibly efficient when he sticks to what he's good at (as evidenced by his 49% shooting last year). The problem? His jumpshot.
If you've watched him play, his jumpshot is just...broken. There's no other word for it. If you haven't seen him play, watch this video. His release is awkward, it's too late, he doesn't balance well, and his form changes a bit every time he shoots. It's not pretty. The bright side? He has good touch. The problems he has can be corrected by the Bobcats' coaching staff. Give it a few years.
The most intriguing part of his offensive game is his handle. It's not elite for his position, but it's decent. It's intriguing because with his explosive first step and wide frame, he should be able to get by his man with some consistency. He might turn the ball over too, but hey, he's still a kid. It will be interesting to see if Dunlap plans to work on this area of Kidd-Gilchrist's game. It would serve him well.
This is where things get really interesting. Remember that season Gerald Wallace averaged 10 rebounds per game? That's not out of the question for Kidd-Gilchrist in the future. He averaged 7.4 rebounds last year, which is kind of ridiculous. In 40 games last year, he grabbed eight or more rebounds 19 times. Wow.
Rebounding is where his tenacity and intensity will show up statistically. From what I understand, Dunlap is invested in grabbing boards before breaking and because the Bobcats don't have very many good rebounders, MKG should have a field day. But, as with everything I've said, don't get your hopes too high.
In conclusion, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a great selection by the Bobcats. He won't save your franchise, but he's a great piece, and one many general managers would sell their children for. The theme here is not to get your hopes up. He's good. He's going to be very good. He's a Gerald Wallace/Andre Iguodala type of player, able to do a little bit of everything.
But he's a rookie. And the things he does best can't be measured by statistics (I keep saying this so you don't forget it. I'm aware I've said it at least five times). However, he'll be very fun to watch, so please watch games. Pretty please?