A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, JR Smith, OJ Mayo and the important difference between bad and average

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Michael Gilchrist

Michael Gilchrist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So far it’s justified to worry about the Charlotte Bobcats taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 2nd overall. While it’s too early to panic about MKG, it’s not too early to be more exciting about Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard’s franchise player potential.

Did Charlotte make a mistake? It’s too early to say. What makes Kidd-Gilchrist interesting is his combination of strengths and weaknesses. His first step, ballhandling and size make his upside attacking the basket off the dribble nearly unlimited. Kidd-Gilchrist also has great instincts and feel for the game, helping him adjust and recognize space offensively. The combination of physical tools and instincts also give him immense defensive potential.

The elephant in the room is Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting game. Not only is MKG hapless as a shooter so far, but his shooting from looks simply awful. MKG should inspire no confidence as a shooter.

Kidd-Gilchrist is fascinating because if he becomes even an average perimeter shooter and scorer, he’s likely a perennial all-star. With near unlimited potential physically impacting the game and high instincts, it’s the only missing piece. Give him Luol Deng’s perimeter scoring game and with his upgrade in explosiveness from Deng, he likely rips apart the small forward position for years. My talent grades for Kidd-Gilchrist is 10 in physical impact talent, 8 in feel for the game and 1 in skill impact talent for a total grade of 19, which is enough to start but not to star. Upgrade his skill impact to a 5 or 6 and my grade is 23-24 which is star material. Just as Dwight Howard didn’t need more than average skill level to be a star, Russell Westbrook doesn’t need more than average feel for the game or Steve Nash doesn’t need more than average physical talents, average can do if the rest of talent is near perfect. But to be BAD at an area like physical talents, skill or intelligence is a far bigger problem to get past.

Two players who show this is JR Smith and OJ Mayo. My grade for OJ Mayo is 9 in skill impact talent, 8 in feel for the game and 1 in physical impact talent for a grade of 18. My grade for JR Smith is 9 in skill impact talent, 9 in physical impact talent and 1 in feel for the game for a grade of 19. Both are good numbers, but a level below stardom. OJ’s perimeter scoring skill and offensive smoothness is terrific, but his whole is he just can’t attack the basket off the dribble. Neither the speed or size is there. His game is nearly entirely outside of the paint. I feel confident saying if OJ was merely average at attacking the basket off the dribble to mix up his game, he’d have the perimeter skills and feel to be a star player. The problem is he is a bad slasher, not an average one. Likewise JR Smith is the equivalent for instincts and feel for the game. He has outstanding explosiveness, size and perimeter range. He’s just not a natural or controlled offensive player. With his explosiveness and shooting, I believe even just middling feel for the game and natural control, makes him a stud.

The story of Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting is not written yet, but unfortunately for all his strengths, if he doesn’t improve his shooting from a bad to average I don’t see him ending up worth that 2nd overall pick. It’s too big a hurdle to get past.

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Written by jr.

April 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

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