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CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is viewed by some as more or less a bust.
He was the second overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, a highly touted McDonald’s All-American and a national champion at the University of Kentucky. He was expected to make an immediate NBA impact.
However, in a league that has transitioned into a 3-point frenzy, Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting is not up to par. Instead, he’s an all-around player who contributes to multiple facets of the game. His contributions aren’t as sexy as Steph Curry laughing after a 30-footer and can therefore get overlooked.
On the other hand, Kidd-Gilchrist is an old-fashioned player. He does the dirty work.
“How unselfish I am when it comes to my teammates,” Kidd-Gilchrist told Amico Hoops when asked what gets overlooked in his game. “I just want to win games at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.”
At Kentucky MKG averaged nearly 12 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, but what made him stand out from the pack was his elite defense. He averaged just more than 1 steal and nearly 1 block per game. He wasn’t performing this way for a team playing meaningless games. During his one and only season in Lexington the Wildcats went 38-2 on their way to the national title.
In the NBA, the 6-foot-7 forward has been largely underrated because he was seen as a potential superstar. That isn’t the case, but that doesn’t mean he’s bad.
In 2014, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. In 2016 he averaged 1 steal and 1 block per game. So far, he’s been an above average NBA player. His one big knock? He’s in his seventh season and has only made a total of 13 3-pointers.
“I can’t control what everybody thinks, but I’m going to be me day in and day out,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I know how I can affect the game in a lot of ways. So I’m gonna stick with it.”
Kidd-Gilchrist was drafted at the age of 19, and the draft can place a kid in a city with which he is totally unfamiliar. Cities like Los Angeles and New York will put a young millionaire under the bright lights, fast. However, Charlotte is a far stretch from Hollywood.
“I think maturity-wise it helped me a lot on and off the court,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of the city and organization.
Being a second overall pick comes with a lot of weight to be great, but can good be accepted? Since Kidd-Gilchrist was drafted, the No. 2 overall picks have combined for one All-Star appearance.
Bottom line: Kidd-Gilchrist has been up to par with the others picked in the same spot, and at 25-years old, there’s still room for him to do more.