RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Michael Kidd-GilchristPosted by EJacoby on June 27th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New Jersey. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Height/Weight: 6’7” / 235 lbs.
NBA Position: Small Forward
Projected Draft Range: High Lottery
Overview: Much like fellow top five prospect Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s NBA intrigues stems from his elite athletic tools and nonstop motor. The heart and soul of Kentucky’s National Championship run, Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t turn 19 years old for another three months, yet displays the maturity and basketball IQ of someone far more advanced in his playing career. ‘MKG’ never quits on a play, locks down defenders for a full 35 seconds, and legitimately thinks he can get every rebound or loose ball during the course of a game. At nearly 6’8″ and an explosive 235 pounds, Kidd-Gilchrist can defend guards on the perimeter and big men in the post with equal success. He constantly attacks, persistent at getting to the rim on the offensive end. He led the NCAA by converting 71% of his field goals in transition situations, nearly unstoppable in the open floor. Despite all of his off-the-charts intangibles and hustle plays, Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t possess the game of a typical franchise player. He averaged just 11.9 PPG in his one-year career at Kentucky and lacks ideal perimeter skills. Though he’ll take and make some outside shots, his jumper has ugly mechanics and he isn’t great at getting his own shot. He’s much more of a weapon off the ball cutting into open spaces to attack the basket. He also averaged more turnovers (2.2) than assists (1.9) and is not very adept as a playmaker for others. That said, MKG finds ways to contribute in the half court, mainly by getting to the foul line at an elite rate and knocking down 75% of his freebies. Not surprisingly, he measured out quite well at the Combine with a 7’0″ wingspan and third-fastest sprint time. Should Kidd-Gilchrist ever fix his outside shot and develop more go-to offensive moves, he’ll have a chance to be a special NBA player given his prototypical athleticism and unique unselfish attitude that leads to doing any and every thing he can to get his team a win.
Will Translate to the NBA: It sounds like a cliche, but there just aren’t many young players who play with as much passion and desire to win games as MKG shows on the floor. He has no ego whatsoever and only cares about the good of the team. His biggest strength is on defense, where he’ll become a top-notch and versatile defender in the league from day one. He’s also a great rebounder for a wing player, grabbing 7.4 boards per game last season. His attacking mentality will translate to the pro game as well, as long as he stays healthy and continues to play fearless on every possession. He shows leadership skills both on and off the court which are a huge plus for an NBA starter who doesn’t project as a leading scorer.
Needs Work: Kidd-Gilchrist needs to work on his jump shot and his handle. He shot just 25.5% from three last season and has a noticeable hitch in the jumper. He also neutralizes some of his advantage as an attacker by losing the ball at times on tricky drives to the basket. For someone who’ll be playing on the wing and defended by small forwards, MKG needs to shore up the perimeter game in order to fit his role offensively. He also still can put on some more weight on his wiry frame, though as the youngest player in the draft with an elite work ethic, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Comparison Players: Of all the players in this draft, it’s really unfair to put a comparison label on Kidd-Gilchrist. He’s totally unique as a game-changing athlete, versatile player, and true floor leader. The most logical comparison falls somewhere in between Gerald Wallace and Scottie Pippen as an athletic small forward who can fill up a box score with multiple contributions yet brings so much more to the table that can’t get measured through basic statistics. His inability to shoot it from deep, though, is reminiscent of Wallace and how he loves to attack the basket in order to convert.
Best Case Scenario: If he starts to put his offensive game together, Kidd-Gilchrist has the ability to become a regular All-Star in the NBA. Few pro forwards possess his combination of athleticism, finishing ability, unselfishness, and defensive prowess. Given his terrific intangibles and body type, the perimeter game is all that’s missing. Some scouts think it’s such a glaring weakness that he’ll never make a major impact in the NBA, but most are enthralled by his overall profile. “All of my scouts love him, says a GM in a recent Chad Ford ESPN piece. “Actually, ‘love’ isn’t a strong enough word. Our coaches, when they watch him play, beg me to go get him. I’ve stood back for the past few months saying, ‘What about his jump shot?’ ‘Can he create his own shot?’ ‘Is he big enough to thrive in the NBA?’ I’ve given up. I love him now more than they do.”
Best NBA Fit: Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t someone who can get an easy 20 points per night, so he’s not a logical fit on a team that requires a franchise scorer. That team would be the Bobcats at #2, but they appear to be looking elsewhere anyway. The perfect fit for MKG is for the Washington Wizards at #3 or the Cleveland Cavaliers at #4, two teams that have franchise point guards to create for others and facilitate offense in the half court. The Wiz and the Cavs need defense, toughness, leadership, and more scorers on the wing. These are all things that Kidd-Gilchrist can do well.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “The ultimate winner and team player. While he lacks superstar potential due to offensive shortcomings, he can be a glorified Shane Battier adding all the little things that a team needs (toughness, leadership etc.).”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.