Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 6/28/12
The general consensus leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft was that Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson would go second overall to the Charlotte Bobcats. Instead, the Bobcats went more 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 enroute to an NBA-worst 7-59 record. Changing the mindset and psyche of the entire organization is the only way the vision the Bobcats' brass circa 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, which is 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, and Dunlap repeatedly said last week he wanted to collect as many shooters as possible. That aspect of MKG's game simply doesn't jive with those statements. So, on one hand Kidd-Gilchrist fits in very well with how the franchise sees its future. On the other hand, however, he doesn't fit the other need and desire by its new coach. Overall, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and had one steal per game for the national champion Wildcats. He's a terrific defensive player and will only get better with experience and maturity. Speculation ran rampant once the Bobcats drafted the 6-foot-7, 215-pounder that they would eventually trade him. Charlotte was reportedly in intense discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers fourth overall selection about a deal, but it never materialized. A few other teams were reportedly interested. And as the teams below Charlotte made their selections, especially when Robinson went fifth overall to Sacramento, it looked more likely that Kidd-Gilchrist was drafted to be a part of Michael Jordan's organization. Vanderbilt forward Jeffrey Taylor fills a major need for the Bobcats as well. Taken with the first pick of the second round, Taylor, a small forward from Vanderbilt, can do many of the things Kidd-Gilchrist can, but 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 per contest over his four-year college career. He played in 134 games for the Commodores while also averaging 1.9 steals for his 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. Taylor, who can also tell an interesting personal story, as he's originally from Sweden, complements Kidd-Gilchrist well while providing needed depth. Kidd-Gilchrist is young and has time to grow his game, which makes him a quality pick. He can also develop into a fan-favorite. He has a remarkable story about his youth and somewhat overcoming a speech impediment. He is quite uncomfortable speaking in front basketball player on a big stage at Kentucky, which routinely draws nearly 24,000 fans for home games, and now in the NBA with his obstacle will endear him to Bobcats fans. But more important from a hoops and business perspective, he has to get it done on the floor. And given that this wasn't a top-heavy draft, the Bobcats did a nice job filling needs.
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