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.

Comments (9)

  1. I’m not sure what it is that people do not like about Drummond, I think he’d be a great 4th or 5th overall pick for the Raptors if that’s where they end up. Call me crazy, but I think he could be the 2nd best player in this year’s draft.

    Beal and Robinson would be good fits, but I don’t know if they would be “perfect fits” as he says. Is DeRozan capable of playing SF full time? Would they be willing to trade Bargnani if they got Robinson?

    The thing about MKG is that he is very raw offensively. He’s a guy that scores a lot on the break, and gets to the line a lot. No, not a great half court player, yet…but with his work ethic, I’d be very surprised if he couldn’t at least get a reliable jump shot.

    A guy that could guard at least 3, maybe even 4 positions in the NBA is rare, and MKG is one of those guys that could do that. From what I’ve seen, I would compare him more to Shawn Marion than Gerald Wallace.

    You made a post earlier about Casey waiting for his “horses” to run, this would be the perfect player for that defense to offense fast break.

    • You made some great points. Outside of your like for Drummond (though you’re clearly not alone), I agree on all points. Like I said, to me, MKG is still the No. 2 player in the draft right now. With the tools he already has, his will to get better, his youth and athleticism, etc, I really think he has the chance to be a special player.

    • What people don’t like about Drummond is that he came into college with the physical presence to dominate and barely even made a ripple. Part of that had to do with teammates who didn’t pass the ball, but it also had to do with his laid back demeanor and penchant for coasting in games. Now, I’m not saying he’s going to be a bust, but he’s certainly got the ingredients to be a big disappointment. I wouldn’t HATE the idea of drafting him, but only if other less risky guys are off the table.

  2. As for the “fit” comment, I’m not quite sure what exactly Kidd-Gilchrist is a bad fit to. The only guy who shouldn’t be trade bait right now should be Valanciunas, so it’s not like you’re trying to fit a piece in an almost finished puzzle. Every good player should be a good fit for the Raptors for the sole reason that they’d (hopefully) become the best player on the team.

    If the Raptors draft outside of the top pick, and bypass Kidd-Gilchrist for someone else, I’ll be incredibly pissed.

  3. MKG is a Casey wet dream. Celebrated motor and D, and fills a position of need. No way BC would pass on him if he were available (assuming we don’t get the first pick). Nothing against Thorpe, but he’s overrating the talent we have. It’s probably a moot argument anyway unless we luck out.

  4. If you ask me (and most people do) any of the 4/5 bigs are a bad fit. I mean if they somehow get the #1 you’ve gotta take Davis, but otherwise the Raptors already have 4 bigs (Bargs, Val, Ed and Amir) for 96 minutes. There’s no room for another one.

    Meanwhile at wing there’s JJ and Kleiza, both of whom aren’t top end starter and probably better off the bench material, and Demar. MKG is a perfect fit. He can run with Demar, he can defend the way Casey wants, and I won’t believe that a kid who works as hard and has the athleticism he does can’t develop a jump shot.

  5. Sometimes immediate impact is underrated.

    Many years ago some kid named Brandon Roy was passed by many teams, because even though it was widely believed he had the best chance to make an immediate impact, it was thought that long-term the other players had more potential.

    Granted Roy is now retired and out of the league, so perhaps they aren’t wrong, but even with the shortened career Roy is going to end up at worst one of the top 3 players from that draft.

  6. Brandon Roy is retired….and he went so low because of concerns about his knees…..hmmmm……guess they were right.

    the #2 spot is between 2 guys…MKG and Beal…period

  7. The Perfect fit the raptors is Harrison Barnes, He’s and pure scorer and can shoot the lights out. He could stretch the floor for Derozan and relive the pressure off him. I see Barnes going 5-7 so drafting him would be a dream come true for the raptors. They have cap space so they can sign more depth and another big man instead of taking a huge risk on drummond.

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