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Queen City Hoops: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

A recent and haunting legacy that has clinged with the Charlotte Bobcats has been their inability to find valuable assets in the NBA Draft despite their continued existence in the high lottery. From the teary eyed Adam Morrison to the increasingly depressing DJ Augustin, Charlotte has continued to struggle in the NBA Draft lottery despite the countless amount of differing General Managers. Rich Cho, Michael Jordan and the rest of Charlotte’s front-office are crossing their fingers as they hope for a change to their continued misfortunes. That hope will come by way of a  6’7 forward by the name of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who will be entering the upcoming season as a 20 year old sophomore.

The young and extremely athletic Kidd-Gilchrist shot up draft boards during the 2012 draft because of  the combination of spectacular athleticism and defensive potential which is outstanding considering his below-average perimeter shooting ability. In a game that’s designed around the three-point shot, Kidd-Gilchrist was able to make Charlotte’s front-court brass ignore his extremely raw (to be kind) shooting touch because of the sheer potential that was going through his lean and athletic frame.

While MKG definitely showed off that superb athleticism during his rookie campaign, those continued struggles from the perimeter was broadcasted at center stage because of the Bobcats inability to shoot from the perimeter (finished 27th in the league in team 3 point percentage). With an extremely awkward and unnatural shooting form, Kidd-Gilchrist always struggled to even get a solid shot attempt off which could improve in the upcoming season after spending the summer with Mark Price. As recently mentioned in a piece on the Washington Post, Price continually emphasises about how long and strenuous this process will be for Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot. While it isn’t exactly the best message to tell the young player, it is necessary for his jumper to progressively improve over the 2013-14 season if the likes of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller want to reach their full offensive potential with Charlotte. It’s highly unlikely for MKG to turn into Ray Allen, but it’s not out of the question for him to follow the same path of Spurs forward Kawahi Leonard and develop a solid corner three-point jumper. Just that simple ability could turn into an incredible asset for Charlotte because Jefferson will have an open weapon that he can kick it out to when he’s being double- teamed.

Three-point shooting aside, Kidd-Gilchrist’s main offensive asset is still his ability to push the ball up the court in transition. His aforementioned athleticism allows him to break out into the open court and finish near the rim. Nearly 20% of Gilchrist’s offensive possessions came in transition which shouldn’t really change that much in the upcoming season. As apparent from the shot chart below, near the rim was one of the only areas in which Gilchrist was mildly efficient which shouldn’t be a big surprise because of how quick and athletic he is.

While it’s pretty much a guarantee for Kidd-Gilchrist to continue to improve as he continues to develop as a player, that developmental process could be sped up because of the increased level of talent that was brought to Charlotte. As previously mentioned, the addition of Jefferson should create some more openings for Kidd-Gilchrist but the drafting of offensive-minded forward Cody Zeller with the continued improvement of Kemba Walker could pay dividends for the young forward. Those offensive assets will put less pressure off of Kidd-Gilchrist which will allow him to continue working on his jumper while using his athleticism as an off-ball player.

Moving on to Kidd-Gilchrist’s bread and butter, his ability on the defensive side of the ball was one of the only things that kept Charlotte from being one of the biggest defensive laughing stocks in the NBA. While he shows those type of flaws that you would expect from someone that’s so young, the combination of tenacity and athleticism makes Kidd-Gilchrist into one of the more lethal defensive forwards in the NBA. That ability will have to continue to be solid because of how flawed Zeller and Jefferson are defensively which will force MKG to hold his opponent near the perimeter.

Hope is an uncommon word in the minds of Bobcats fans but that thought might be slowly returning in their minds which is could be directed around the progression of MKG. Could he turn into the team’s first All-Star since Gerald Wallace? That’s pretty far-fetched, but it’s still going to be an interesting rid for Bobcats for the next couple of seasons.