Thursday, June 28 was a glorious day for the Big Blue Nation, as former Wildcats Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist managed to become the first teammates in history selected first and second overall in the NBA Draft. We all knew Davis would go number one, but MKG could’ve gone anywhere in the top five, and his destination was a toss-up. For the first time in what seems like forever, fans believed Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan ACTUALLY made a solid choice in the draft selection process.
Through his first four seasons in a Hornets uniform, however, he has fallen short of expectations.
No, Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t been bad by any means, he’s actually been fairly productive, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He just hasn’t become the superstar many know he can be.
In his 2014-15 campaign, MKG averaged 11 points and nearly eight rebounds per contest, and provided lockdown defense on some of the top players in the game throughout the year. Last season, Gilchrist was off to a strong start, averaging nearly 13 points and seven rebounds a game, before shoulder surgery knocked him out for the remainder of the year.
This season, Kidd-Gilchrist is ready to prove he’s worthy of his second overall selection.
Basketball Insiders believes the former Wildcat wing is set for a breakout season for the Hornets if he can fix just a few flaws in his game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken with the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and has established himself as one of the NBA’s best wing-defenders. Unfortunately, injuries have limited Kidd-Gilchrist to just 62 total games over the last two seasons.
If Kidd-Gilchrist is close to 100 percent healthy entering the upcoming season and has worked out some of the kinks in his jump shot, I expect him to have his best season yet. He is already a strong slasher, finishes well around the rim and, of course, is a monster on defense. With some added range and experience, Kidd-Gilchrist has the chance to be this year’s breakout player.
His atrocious looking jump shot….
(Yeah, this one.)
…. has apparently been cured with the help of former Cavs great and current Charlotte 49ers head coach Mark Price and assistant coach Bruce Kreutzer, something that certainly bodes well for him.
In his first four seasons in the NBA, Kidd-Gilchrist has only taken 25 shots from behind the arc, converting just six of those for a whopping 24% from three. He’s gotten the Isaiah Briscoe treatment, as defenders sag off of him from behind the arc and dare him to jack one up. He’s become one-dimensional on offense, and it has limited his potential as the star he’s capable of becoming.
If he can manage to, at the very least, keep defenders honest by converting on roughly 32-35% from deep, it unlocks a whole new level of greatness out of the former Wildcat. Off the dribble, MKG is nasty and has proven that time again at every competitive level. If a defender has to get up in his face to defend his jumper, it’s game over from there.
Aside from shooting, it’s all there. He’s a slasher with uncanny ability to finish at the rim, excellent defender on just about every position on the floor, great rebounding ability, handles the ball, runs the floor extremely well, etc. The kid is a living, breathing Swiss Army knife, he just has to put it all together.
When it comes to injuries, MKG can only do so much to prevent them, but he has done everything in his power to do just that. His rehab has reportedly gone exceptionally well, and he should be good to go when training camp rolls around again this fall.
With Al Jefferson out, and several other key Hornet role players headed elsewhere, the spotlight is on the New Jersey native to live up to the hype.
If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can put his improved jump shooting on display this season while staying healthy, it’s going to be a well deserved big year for the former Wildcat.
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