They used to call it one of the best draft classes of the last 25 years. Now, it’s looking more and more like Anthony Davis… and then everybody else. Still, on June 28, the 2012 NBA Draft will bring hope, and hopefully new talent to some teams that desperately need it.
As we do every year, Dime will be holding you down with mock drafts, player interviews and diaries (you should check out Dion Waiters‘ draft diary), and we will also be bringing you draft profiles for every potential prospect deemed worthy. With this year’s crop of talent, that list is long. Our last profile was on the future of UNC’s Kendall Marshall. Today, we’re looking at Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
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Best case: Andre Iguodala
Worst case: Metta World Peace (more athletic)
Final comparison: Gerald Wallace
Ratings (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being overseas talent and 10 being NBA Rookie Of The Year)
Michael Kidd-Glichrist is a very unique athlete. He’s a player that knows how to use his athletic ability in so many different ways, but it shows mostly in transition. The fast break is where Kidd-Gilchrist excels the most offensively. His ability to attack the rim is special. When he’s in space, there’s nobody that can stop him from getting to the basket. He has that D-Wade athleticism that allows him to finish plays no matter what, whether he has to jump over a defender and finish emphatically, or use his strength and finesse to avoid a charge and lay the ball in acrobatically. He changes speeds and accelerates extremely well, and plays with velocity. He skies high for rebounds and blocks, moves extremely quick laterally which makes him an effective defender, especially closing out on shooters. He has great anticipation and really uses his quickness and length to shoot those passing lanes, which is another area where his athleticism really shines. Kidd-Gilchrist is a multi-faceted athlete who can really leave his stamp on a game with his athleticism.
If there’s anything holding Kidd-Gilchrist back, it’s his skill set. He’s one of those players that does everything good, but nothing great. His handle is good enough to play on the perimeter, but there are times when he looks uncomfortable and you can tell ballhandling doesn’t come natural to him. He rarely looks to create his own shot from outside, especially off the dribble, which is both a good and bad thing… good because he never holds the ball for too long. The ball never stops moving when it comes to him. On the catch, he quickly looks to see what options he has and he either attacks, or gets rid of it. However, defenders won’t respect him as a real outside threat when he has the basketball on the perimeter. He’s capable of knocking down open shots when they come to him, but he doesn’t always have enough faith in his shooting ability to take them. He only shot 25 percent from three at Kentucky, which is noticeably low, but for the amount of shots he took (51) it’s hard to see that as an accurate measure of what type of shooter he’ll be at the next level. He’s a great slasher, but often over-attacks. He doesn’t like to pull-up mid drive and take the easy 10-15 footer. He’d much rather try his chances at finishing at the rim, which will be more difficult for him at the next level. If he wants to become a consistent offensive contributor, he’ll have to get more confident shooting the basketball. That’s where improving his offensive game starts. After he does that, everything else will fall into place.
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There’s no question that Kidd-Gilchrist has the NBA package. He’s got the size, strength, athletic ability, and extremely advanced intangibles that will make him a model professional from the time he plays his first NBA game. The small forward position isn’t exactly the easiest position to defend in the NBA, but Kidd-Gilchrist is already an elite defender who is only going to get better. He won’t back down from any challenge, and will openly accept the role of guarding the other team’s best player on any given night. That’s what he’ll bring to the table for whichever team he plays for. Saying he can hold his own defensively is an understatement. He has such a unique combination that makes him a really versatile defender. He’s capable of guarding three different positions at the next level. What he brings to the table offensively is a high motor, high basketball IQ, unselfishness, and the will to win. Although he isn’t going to be competing for any scoring titles, any NBA team needs what MKG has to offer.
MKG is the exact opposite of your typical top wing prospect. Most of the time, wing players selected as high as MKG is projected are chosen because of what they offer offensively. But what good is having a rookie who can contribute offensively when he’s a liability on defense? MKG’s defining trait is his defense. It’s not every day you come across that type of prospect. Offensively, he knows where he can be effective. He’ll always be able to flourish in the open court, and his motor and tenacity will allow him to get those scrappy second-chance baskets. MKG never seems to get tired. Put all this together and it’s hard to see him not playing a ton of minutes, especially if he goes to a team that isn’t necessarily desperate for offensive firepower. For now, what you see is what you get with MKG. Right now, he’s likely going to have to accept the role as a defensive stopper and take a backseat offensively. There isn’t much left for him to improve upon aside from his shooting. Consistency and confidence in his jumper will come eventually. At worst, MKG will become a Metta World Peace (at best, maybe the Ron Artest version), willing to take responsibility defensively, get those tough scrappy buckets, and hit the open shot when it comes to him. At best, he develops his outside game and becomes an Andre Iguodala type of all-around player.