The latest in our series of profiles of top 2012 NBA draft prospects has Oliver Macklem, a producer for RaptorBlog radio, breaking down Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – SF – 6’8, 233lbs.
Kentucky

If there is one skill that undoubtedly translates to success in the professional ranks, it’s a work ethic. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist not only has a tremendous work ethic, he has an insatiable desire to win. The trump card for MKG is his fearless attitude on the court. These intangibles add up to a can’t-miss prospect and while his ceiling is debatable, there no question that MKG has one of the highest floors of any prospect in this draft.

MKG has the ideal size for a wing player in the NBA. His 7-foot wingspan will make him a superior rebounder at his position and he already has enough muscle on his frame to hold his ground under the basket. His conditioning levels are exceptional. The early morning workouts that he organized for his Kentucky teammates are an indication of his commitment to fitness.

Kidd-Gilchrist does a great job of exposing the weaknesses in his defender. He has the post moves necessary to take advantage of smaller players down low, while his ball-handling and dogged determination allow him to beat players his own size. MKG uses an assortment of moves to find his way to the hoop. He has a mean crossover, a refined hop-step and most importantly, an aggressive nature that, more often than not, leads him to choose driving over shooting. He is an unstoppable force in the open court, with 71 percent of his baskets this season coming on the fast break. He forces his way into seams and does an excellent job of drawing contact. However, what really makes him special is his ability to affect the game whether he has the ball in his hands or not. He sets screens, rebounds and never plays selfishly. This will make him a fit on any team, no matter the role he is asked to play.

On the defensive end, MKG can defend multiple positions. He has the lateral quickness to stay with guards and the strength and determination to fight with post players. This versatility gives him the potential to be a lockdown defender at the next level. It’s hard to imagine Kidd-Gilchrist not making All-NBA defensive teams over the course of his career.

The only real weakness in his game at this point is his jump-shot (25 percent from three-point land). There persists a hitch in his shooting motion as he brings the ball up. This unorthodox release hurts his percentages. There are also concerns that he has trouble creating his own shot in the half-court.

As the youngest prospect in this year’s draft, MKG still has plenty of time to expand his skill-set. The intangibles that he brings to the table make him a no-risk prospect now, and if he continues to expand his game, he can become an elite talent in the NBA.

Chad Ford of ESPN sums up MKG nicely, writing “Ask anyone who knows anything about basketball what label should adorn Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as he prepares for the 2012 NBA draft and they all, to a man, say the same thing. Winner.”