As if it weren’t trying enough for a raw, highly touted, 19-year-old prospect to make the NBA leap, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had the added challenge of beginning his career under impossible conditions.
There are those first-year players who could have created more buzz out of Charlotte’s situation last year — those who could have capitalized on the offensive void by racking up shot attempts and benefited from the complete lack of surrounding talent by putting up big numbers. But Kidd-Gilchrist had neither the ball skills nor the inclination to play such a dominant role, while the Bobcats lacked the sense of order necessary to make better use of his talents. He is an incredible athlete with a natural feel for off-ball movement, but last season Kidd-Gilchrist was often lost in a jumbled mess, with his instincts as his only means of navigating broken plays and perpetually crowded driving lanes.
Young shooters can still spot up, rookie big men can still work off of their size and developing ball-handlers have opportunities to push through their growing pains off the bounce. Kidd-Gilchrist had no such outlet. He stood to offer the most value on a team with a well-spaced offense and competent team defense, both of which were well beyond Charlotte’s capabilities a year ago. Those were difficult circumstances, but things should get easier for Kidd-Gilchrist as a function of his acclimation to the NBA scene.