Happy Birthday, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist! Hailing from the small town of Somerdale, NJ, MKG has come quite a long way for after only turning 20 years old today. I mean the man will complete two full seasons in the NBA before he can even buy himself a drink. But after some rookie struggles, here’s why he’s poised for a breakout sophomore season with the Bobcats.
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I grew up about 5 minutes from Somerdale, so I’m extremely familiar with MKG and his rise from a small NJ town to the No. 2 overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2012 NBA Draft. Playing in a small market in Charlotte, some might not be aware of the type of game that MKG brings to the table. He’s overlooked a lot, because he doesn’t put up 30 points a night and act like a diva.
I love this kid, he brings the lost arts of the NBA game back into the fold: the hustle, the explosiveness, the scrapping, and all the other intangibles. While most NBA players have their game centered on the offensive side of the ball, Kidd-Gilchrist is a one-of-kind player that thrives on the defensive hardwood. He’s a ferocious animal on the court. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will break out this year and you will all know his name and his game.
Kidd-Gilchrist only played one season at the University of Kentucky under head coach John Calipari, but even in that single season, he left an impact. Coach Calipari spoke very highly of Kidd-Gilchrist even before he played a game for the Wildcats, saying:
“Michael is a flat-out winner. He was the leader on one of the best high school teams in the country, not because he’s one of the nation’s best scorers but because of his intangibles, intensity and passion. With his athleticism and length, he has the ability to be one of our best defenders. I’m looking for Michael to be the fire of this team.”
During his one season at Kentucky, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor. He also averaged .90 blocks per game, which attests to his ferocity on defense. MKG had a plus/minus of 12.9 during his only year at Kentucky. His high plus/minus numbers show how much more his team excels when he’s on the court.
Most of MKG’s game features attributes that don’t show on a stat sheet. His numbers won’t drop any jaws, but watching this kid play will astound basketball lifers because he’s doing what many other players won’t. He’s doing all the dirty work, the stuff that coaches fall in love with. There’s a reason MKG was the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has the intangibles that can’t be taught. You can improve a jump shot, as we’ve seen with many players throughout the years. But you cannot improve a player’s heart and passion for the game; a category Kidd-Gilchrist tops the charts in. MKG also has superb defensive ability, with potential to be a top flight wing defender as his career progresses. As the birthday boy puts more years of work in at the NBA level, his game will develop and people will start to take notice.