As one of the most talented and mentally polished players to come out of the NBA Draft in recent memory, Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has general managers salivating at the thought of the 6’7 forward donning their franchises cap come Draft night. At only 18 (19 come the end of September), MKG’s poise and leadership are unique qualities rarely seen at such a young age and when combined with his jack of all trades talent, it’s hard to imagine the New Jersey native dropping past the number five spot in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
There has been speculation from a handful of teams (Portland, Golden State) that the Kentucky product could slip to the sixth or seventh spot, which seems unfathomable given his abilities, so for now we’re going to focus on the most realistic spots for Kidd-Gilchrist: Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland and Sacramento.
Charlotte Bobcats: Holding the number two selection in the Draft, the Bobcats will have plenty of choices to fill out their roster despite rumors that they’re interested in moving out of their selection spot (which might be their best option, depending on the offers). Despite that, assuming the Bobcats decide to keep their pick, its difficult for any GM to pass on size – Rich Cho included. Kidd-Gilchrist is undoubtedly worthy of being the number two pick off talent alone, but passing on a player like Kansas’ Thomas Robinson is reason to get a front office fired. So while MKG certainly fits a need for the Bobcats, so does Robinson and it’s much more difficult to get a talented big man then it is to get a talented wing.
Washington Wizards: As recent as a few days ago, it appeared that the Washington Wizards were a player in the MKG sweepstakes as their small forward situation was less then desirable. But with the snap of a finger, Rashard Lewis was gone and Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza were welcomed from the New Orleans Hornets. Granted, Travor Ariza is far from the future at small forward for the Wiz, but he’s also not going any place for another two years as he’s signed through the ’13-14 season (’13-14 is a player option) and the Wizards have more pressing needs then splitting time between Ariza and Kidd-Gilchrist. And yes, while it’s true that Ariza or MKG could play effectively at the two, the more likely option for the Wizards is to look at a more traditional shooting guard in Florida’s Bradley Beal, who very well could be the Draft’s best scorer.
Cleveland Cavaliers: From all reports, the Cleveland Cavaliers are smitten with North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes – but as we all know, reports and rumors are usually nothing more then white lies and smoke screens. There’s no doubt Harrison Barnes is a talented player who’s worthy of his potential top five pick status, but is he a better player then the Wildcat’s Gilchrist? That remains to be seen and it’ll have to be a question that Chris Grant and the Cavs front office has to make. Assuming Thomas Robinson and Bradley Beal go in their respective two and three slots, the Cavs don’t seem to have many options outside of Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist and with a severe need for a talented small forward, either makes perfect sense and will be a wonderful compliment to Kyrie Irving.
Sacramento Kings: In this scenario, the Sacramento Kings are more or less picking up the leftovers. They’d be absolutely floored if MKG or Thomas Robinson fell to them, but with Robinson most likely going second, they’ll be left to draft whomever Cleveland opted to leave on the big board. One interesting note for Sacramento though is the fact that they’ve shown interest in players like Moe Harkless (a mid-first rounder) and haven’t worked out ANY of the above mentioned players, despite having the fifth pick in the NBA Draft, leading some to believe the Kings are looking at moving the pick if Robinson or Gilchrist don’t slip to them. With high quality talents already in place, such as DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, not to mention an iffy arena situation going on locally, the Kings are going to do their best to win immediately and may opt for a veteran talent in a draft day trade.
Final Verdict: So, where does Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist go? Given what we know, Kidd-Gilchrist will not be slipping past the Sacramento Kings at number five, but chances are – he doesn’t make it that far. With Charlotte and Washington most likely passing on the talented freshman, that leaves Cleveland as the perfect suitor for MKG, despite their perceived interest in Harrison Barnes. Kyrie Irving‘s high basketball IQ, paired with MKG’s high basketball IQ would be a wonderful duo down the road and it’s hard for me to believe the Cavs are that enamored with North Carolina’s Barnes when Kentucky’s Gilchrist is projected to be the better talent. If for some reason the rumors play out to be true and the Cavs do pass on Kidd-Gilchrist for Barnes, the folks in Sacramento’s front office will be doing flips over MKG falling to them as his elite basketball IQ would be a welcome change from the sloppy basketball in California’s state capitol.
Note: In the case of a potential trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats as suggested by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, if the Cavs were to end up with the number two pick and selected Bradley Beal, I anticipate Kidd-Gilchrist would go to Washington as opposed to the above scenario.