Across the Truehoop Network we are, as we do every year, staging a mock draft. To catch you up: Anthony Davis is headed to New Orleans, T-Rob went to the Bobcats at no. 2, and the Wiz selected Bradley Beal. Which allows the Cleveland Cavaliers to select…
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Small Forward, Kentucky
This is it. The Wiz take Brad Beal (*pours out a 40 oz*), and Chris Grant hands his intern an index card and tells him to “[expletive]-ing run!” to David Stern’s side. The index card reads: “Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gentleman Sidekick.” This is a perfect fit for the Cavs, who upgrade from a small forward platoon of Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi to a breathtaking athlete who, if he wasn’t a basketball player, would have hobbies like liberating small island nations from tyranny and demolishing buildings with his will. He instantly becomes the second- or third-best Cavalier.
You know how some people have a charisma that seems to vibrate the room as they enter it? MKG’s work ethic is something like that. The top half of this lottery is packed with likable gym rats (and Andre Drummond), but scouts and experts have labored to point out that Kidd-Gilchrist stands apart from his peers in terms of competitiveness. I don’t doubt he will struggle, like all rookies do, to adapt his game to the NBA, but he will not have to learn how to be a professional. From the moment he steps into the Cavaliers training facility, he will belong.
When Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving were introduced to the Cleveland media shortly after the Players Association and the NBA put the final touches on a new CBA, Chris Grant described them as “two high quality humans… [that] just happen to be really good basketball players.” There’s a whit of disingenuousness in that statement; obviously Grant would have said nice things about TT and Irving even if they were miscreants, but this front office has consciously and deliberately prioritized character. They are mindful that building a team (almost from scratch, really) means also building a culture that determines how the team is going to operate and grow. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be a phenomenal addition to the group of industrious young players the Cavs have assembled over the past couple of years. The sheer voracity of his game is bound to rub off on his teammates.
In terms of the more tangible aspects of his game, MKG is a 6’7″, 235-pound wing who can guard three (or four, depending who you ask) positions. He will afford the Cavs some flexibility on defense because he can slide over and guard the other team’s best perimeter scorer, a luxury the team hasn’t had since LeBron left, and even then, LBJ usually wouldn’t check the other team’s best player all game because he also needed to shoulder the scoring load. MKG is a very good rebounder for his size, and has the strength to finish at the rim after he pulls down offensive boards. He’s mostly a slasher at this point in his development. He’s very quick and a good leaper. He reminds many scouts of Andre Iguodala, which sounds about right. In a perfect world, he will develop into a better shooter than Iggy and his ball handling needs work, but he doesn’t turn 19 until September, so he has plenty of time to grow his game.
I think he’s the best fit for the Cavs not named Anthony Davis, and I would love to have him. There’s a good chance Chris Grant agrees with me, but the Cavaliers have thrown up a lot of smokescreens as far as who they’re selecting with the fourth pick. According to Chad Ford, if both MKG and Harrison Barnes are available, it’s anyone’s guess who they’ll select. (Again, if they take Barnes with MKG still on the board, I will punch a hole in this blog.) Also, if Beal and Kidd-Gilchrist are out of the picture by the fourth pick, and Andre Drummond might be in play. There’s also a chance there will be a rupture in the space-time continuum, and from that rupture will saunter forth Morgwroth, Ravager of Worlds. In that scenario, I see the Cavs trading down.