Mar 31, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) reacts during the second half in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four against the Louisville Cardinals at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
I watch some college basketball, but not a ton. Certainly not as much as I watch NBA basketball. After the season ends, I do my best to study the film that I have access to and read plenty of scouting reports, but that can't really compare to someone who has watched these players every night. For that perspective, I went to A Sea of Blue, SBNation's Kentucky Wildcats blog and emailed their manager, Glenn Logan. I simply asked for his thoughts about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Here's Glenn's take:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist came to Kentucky as one of the most coveted recruits in the nation. He will leave the Wildcats fold as one of the most popular players ever to take the court. He wasn't popular here for his winning personality, but for his indomitable work ethic on the court, and for his unselfish, team-first attitude.
MKG, as he is known around these parts, has a will to win that is completely singular in it's focus and intensity. Kentucky has had many players with a strong will to win and intense demeanor on the court, but MKG was different from all of them. His intensity when the ball was in play was almost manic in its single-minded purpose, and the idea of taking a possession off has apparently never occurred to him.
MKG treats every possession as if it was the last of the most important game of his life. It is truly remarkable to watch. Then, he will smile a big smile after the play. He is anything but joyless, but his intensity is truly remarkable.
Physically, MKG is a very fast player end to end. When he gets a step on the break, he is, for the most part, completely unstoppable. It isn't just his blazing speed, but his aggressive determination to finish strong at the rim that makes him so tough. When MKG would get the ball on the break at Kentucky, we counted the bucket before he got two steps, because if we waited for the third, it was already in the books.
Kidd-Gilchrist can defend any spot on the floor from the point guard to the center, and has done so at Kentucky. He is intense on defense, and that intensity masks some of his developing footwork, which could be better. The best thing about him defensively is that he doesn't give up after he gets beat, and he will trust his teammates and facilitate their help rather than mindlessly chase a hopeless disadvantage.
The other great thing about MKG is his rebounding. He simply never gives up on a rebound, and he would often get rebounds at Kentucky after the third or fourth effort. If you are an opponent and are competing with MKG for the ball, you need a big position or size advantage to have any hope of success. "Relentless" seems a pale adjective to describe how he is tries to get the ball.
MKG's weakness is his jump shot. He has a hitch in the shot and positions it wrong, and often shoots on the way down rather than at the apex of his jump. He has learned to make the shot with reasonable consistency, but his form is broken and desperately needs fixing.
Kidd-Gilchrist is a leader. He created the "Breakfast Club" at Kentucky and all the other starters were forced to join him in the early workouts or fall behind. He once insisted that John Calipari start Darius Miller in his place during the SEC Championship game, because he was concerned that Miller was struggling and needed a start to get him going again.
No team will ever regret drafting MKG. He will never be a huge scorer, but he will make any team better from day one with his energy, his determination, his willingness to listen to his coaches and his selfless and team-first play. Defensively, he is the guy you put on the team's leading scorer and then don't worry about it.
MKG is like IBM. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. Nobody will ever get fired for drafting MKG.
That is coming from someone who watched all of his games and covered the team. How's that sound, Cavs fans?