SI.com’s Sam Amick is looking ahead to an NBA draft that will be crawling with former Kentucky Wildcats. Amick says that there is a bit of risk with every pick and compares it to gambling. In the first part of a three part series, he lists the players that he would consider as “Hitting the Jackpot” if a team was in line their services. These are the premier, can’t miss prospects of the draft.
1. Hitting The Jackpot (four players): The talent is immense and the upside is as trustworthy as there is in the draft. See below for an evaluation of Davis and the other three players in this group
Obviously Anthony Davis is going to be apart of the list, but another Wildcat makes an appearance too.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky, freshman small forward (6-7, 210): He was Robin to Davis’ Batman at Kentucky, in large part because of his commitment to playing both ends of the floor (he was only fourth on the team in scoring at 11.9 points). It’s unclear whether he can evolve into playing a lead role, but he has no shortage of casting calls because of his versatility and the leadership he showed during the Wildcats’ championship run.
For all of the attention paid to Davis as Kentucky’s top talent, Kidd-Gilchrist was regarded as the team’s glue. Coach John Calipari routinely praised him for being the emotional leader, and Kidd-Gilchrist was the captain of the Wildcats’ 8:30 a.m. workouts before scheduled practices.
It’s hard to tell how good he can be offensively because of the deep surrounding talent at Kentucky, but he has been compared to New Jersey’s Gerald Wallace in terms of his athleticism and attacking mentality. Kidd-Gilchrist had two of his best offensive games in the NCAA tournament, scoring 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting against Indiana in the Sweet 16 and 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Baylor in the Elite Eight.
He might have the best motor in the draft, and nothing makes scouts happier than a player who never stops. Kidd-Gilchrist is also a tenacious defender with a 6-10 wingspan. His inconsistent perimeter game is a concern, but his work ethic and approach have NBA teams drooling.
“He has all the intangibles,” one assistant general manager said. “And he plays extremely hard.”
Yup. That’s about right. Here’s what he had to say about the Brow:
Anthony Davis, Kentucky, freshman power forward (6-foot-10, 220 pounds): As if his top-dog status hasn’t been established already, I spoke with another general manager to inquire about Davis’ incredible potential. To review, my May 1 report had executives comparing Davis not only to Blake Griffin but also to future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Sure enough, the consensus continues.
“He could be every bit as good as KG,” the GM said. “KG, [Tim] Duncan — that’s this guy’s upside. There’s no telling how good this guy is going to be.”
Whereas most No. 1 picks have already showcased most of their skills by this stage, the fact that Davis didn’t become a big man until a growth spurt during his junior year in high school likely means the evolution is just getting started. His defensive presence has been well-chronicled (he led the nation with 4.6 blocks), but the GM sees plenty of offensive potential as well.
“He’ll start doing things in a couple of years, and you’ll be like, ‘Wow,’ ” he said.
Also listed by Amick as can’t miss prospects are Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and Florida’s Bradley Beal. The draft is June 28th and it’ll be pretty much blue and white throughout. Is there anyway we can prevent all of them from being sentenced to Charlotte?