The general consensus leading up to the NBA Draft was that Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson would go second overall to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Instead, the Bobcats went with quickness by taking Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, adding a glimpse into the franchise’s future as seen by general manager Rich Cho and new head coach Mike Dunlap.
Dunlap repeatedly said during his introductory press conference last week that he wants the Bobcats to play fast — super fast. He wants them to defend using much of the floor and to run it like mad when in possession of the ball. And while Robinson is a fine athlete, Kidd-Gilchrist, whom fans refer to as “MKG,” is a sensational athlete who loves to attack the rim and is quite adept at doing so.
The Bobcats were too passive this past season en route to an NBA-worst 7-59 record. Changing the mind-set and psyche of the entire organization is the only way that the vision the Bobcats’ brass has for 2015-16 and beyond can ever come to fruition. So, with that in mind, Kidd-Gilchrist was a quality choice.
Yet while Kidd-Gilchrist is a terrific athlete and can finish, he’s not a very accurate perimeter shooter. In his only season at UK, Kidd-Gilchrist converted on just 13 of 51 3-point attempts, a paltry 25.5 percent. That’s what is most puzzling about this pick. Charlotte converted on just 29.5 percent from beyond the arc last season, and Dunlap has repeatedly said he wants as many shooters as possible. That aspect of MKG’s game simply doesn’t jive with those statements.
Trade speculation ran rampant once the Bobcats drafted the 6-foot-7, 215-pounder. Charlotte reportedly was in intense discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had the fourth overall selection, and a few other teams, but a deal never materialized.
And as the teams below Charlotte made their selections, especially when Robinson went fifth to Sacramento, it looked more likely that Kidd-Gilchrist was drafted to be a part of Michael Jordan’s organization.
Kidd-Gilchrist is young and has time to grow his game, which makes him a quality pick. He averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and one steal per game for the national champion Wildcats, is a terrific defensive player and will only get better with experience and maturity.
He also can develop into a fan favorite. He has a remarkable story about his youth and has worked to overcome a speech impediment that made him uncomfortable speaking on a big stage at Kentucky, which routinely draws nearly 24,000 fans for home games.
Vanderbilt small forward Jeffrey Taylor fills a major need for the Bobcats as well. Taken with the first pick of the second round, Taylor can do many of the things Kidd-Gilchrist can, and he’s a better shooter. Taylor hit on 42.3 percent of his 156 shots from 3-point range this past season and averaged 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds over his four-year college career.
At 6-7 and nearly 230 pounds, he’s strong but extremely athletic, has a high motor and is regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in the draft.