Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the Charlotte Hornets Most Important Player

Feb 3, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) warms up before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) warms up before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /
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With a team full of talented players, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the Charlotte Hornets most important player going into the 2016-17 season.

After missing most of last season due to multiple shoulder injuries, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the Charlotte Hornets most important player entering the 2016-17 season. He will not only need to be as good as last year but show consistent improvement while having great durability. Charlotte have high hopes entering the 2016 campaign and a lot of their success lies on the shoulders of their starting small forward.

The team can not afford to lose MKG for a large chunk of the season as they did last year. They also need him to become a better shooter and help replace the production lost from last season. Throughout all of the injuries, many have forgotten just how important Kidd-Gilchrist is to this Hornets’ team.

The 22-year old small forward averaged 12.7 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game in seven game last season. He averaged 29.3 minutes per game in a limited number of games. MKG also shot 54.1% from the field, 42.9% from the three-point line, and 69% from the free throw line.

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Replacing Lost Players

The Hornets lost plenty of contributing players from last season this summer such as Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee, Troy Daniels, and Al Jefferson. The team was able to replace most of those players this offseason but for the most part, their money mainly went to re-signing their own free agents. They did this because that knew that they would be getting MKG back this year.

The return of Kidd-Gilchrist is like a free agent acquisition within itself. He only played in seven games last season for a 48 win team. Charlotte were successful without him and with a great player like Michael coming back, he’s the x-factor on the team’s roster.

Courtney Lee replaced MKG for the second half of last season in the starting line-up. After losing Lee this summer, Kidd-Gilchrist will now need to replace his production this year. After not making a big name free agent signing this offseason, MKG can be the team’s biggest addition from last season’s roster to this year.

Consistent Improvement

Although he only played in seven games in 2015, Kidd-Gilchrist showcased a small sample size of outstanding play. He averaged career highs in points per game, rebounds per game, and shooting percentages from the field and three-point line. That development in his game is key for the Hornets going forward.

It bodes well for Charlotte if MKG can show consistent improvement in his all-around game and most importantly his outside shooting. If Michael can average the numbers he did last year for a full season, then he could make his team a viable contender in the Eastern Conference. Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t the same player that he was when Charlotte drafted him back in 2012 and he has actually shown some great development within his game. That will need to continue.

Here is a glimpse of what Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can do when he is healthy:

Staying Healthy

This may be the most important thing for MKG and the Charlotte Hornets this season. The team dealt with a number of injuries to key players last year with Kidd-Gilchrist being the most affected by them. After playing in 78 games his rookie season, the 6’7 small forward only played in 62 games in 2013-14, 55 games in 2014-15, and only seven last year.

Luckily the team had enough depth to tread water and actually become a top-six team in the East last year. That may not be the case this season as they will need every one of their important guys to stay healthy and contribute on a constant basis. MKG may have been rushed back after his first shoulder injury and maybe he was just unlucky last year but the team can not afford to repeat last season in terms of serious injuries.

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There is no doubt that MKG is one of the best players on the Charlotte Hornets roster as well as one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA. He also has the ability to be a top small forward but Kidd-Gilchrist will need to stay healthy in order to prove that. While he may not be the best player on the team, he is the most important player for the 2016-17 season.