Most Raptors fans seem to be in agreement that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the second best player in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft after fellow Wildcat, Anthony Davis.
While everyone is hoping for a less than likely lottery win on May 30 to partner Davis with Jonas Valanciunas in a modern day Twin Towers frontcourt, Raps fans would be nearly as excited to see Toronto land the No. 2 pick, just for the chance to draft Kidd-Gilchrist.
Almost everything I’ve read about and watched from MKG is impressive. He’s supposedly a gym rat who works his butt off, both on the court and off the court. He’s gotten better nearly every year of his development. He’s the definition of a character guy. He attacks the basket so relentlessly and recklessly, you almost worry for his body. He’s a defence-first player who would fit in perfectly with Dwane Casey’s style of play.
Aside from the fact that his offensive arsenal is far from developed, you won’t find many negatives in MKG’s scouting report.
So I was quite surprised then, to read David Thorpe of ESPN’s take on who the best draft fits for the Raptors would be. Thorpe has Davis as “the obvious pick,” has UCONN big man Andre Drummond as a “kind of fits” (I wouldn’t touch Drummond with a mile-long pole), and has Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson as “perfect fits.”
Under the heading “bad fit,” you’ll find one Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Here’s Thorpe’s reasoning:
“Kidd-Gilchrist would give them much-needed athleticism and energy, but his poor perimeter shooting will not likely allow him to stretch defenses for some time, if ever. However, let’s be clear: Kidd-Gilchrist would not be a disastrous pick. It’s just that picking so high, the Raptors will have better choices available.”
Let’s make one thing clear, Thorpe probably knows more about scouting and basketball than any of you or I do. But I still can’t buy into his closing argument.
In terms of being ready to make an immediate offensive impact in the NBA, yes, guys like Beal and even UNC’s Harrison Barnes would probably be better fits. But I think what Thorpe and anyone else doubting Kidd-Gilchrist have to remember is that despite players like Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, the Raptors are still in the early stages of a building process, and their sole focus in this draft should be selecting the player they believe will be the best player overall, over a long period of time, not just the player(s) that give them the most immediate impact.
Though having said that, perhaps the fact that Bryan Colangelo is currently only under contract for next season changes that thinking process.
As of right now, I’d still peg Kidd-Gilchrist as the second best prospect in this draft class, but he does have a long way to go on the offensive end, and if insiders like Thorpe begin to cool on him, do we have to consider the fact that perhaps we’ve all overrated MKG as a near consensus No. 2?
It should be interesting to see how things look after pre-draft workouts, when Kidd-Gilchrist gets to show off his well documented work ethic.
For the record, Thorpe had some encouraging things to say about the Raptors, including that “This is a team that is rapidly acquiring and developing talent.“