Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Has a Chance to Finally Silence the Critics This Season

Oct 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) looks on during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) looks on during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Experts and fans alike have often critiqued Michael Kidd-Gilchrist throughout his career but he has a chance to silence the critics once and for all.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t had is easy in the NBA so far. He has dealt with numerous injuries, struggled to improve his outside shot, and is still trying to live up to the expectations of being a top draft pick. Even though things haven’t been great, MKG has a chance to finally stop the criticism that has surrounded him since joining the Charlotte Hornets.

After being drafted with the number two overall pick by Charlotte in 2012, high expectations had been placed on Kidd-Gilchrist from the get go. He was one of the best players coming out of college after a highly successful year with the Kentucky Wildcats. Michael’s perimeter defense and hustle made him a highly touted prospect.

He struggled to adjust his game to the NBA level and only averaged 9.0 points per game and 5.8 rebounds in his rookie season. The poor beginning to his career carried over into his second year as he regressed and only averaged 7.2 PPG and 5.2 rebounds per game in his sophomore season. In his third campaign, Michael improved and finally averaged double-digit scoring numbers with 10.9 PPG to go along with 7.6 RPG.

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Although his shot was still as broken and he couldn’t knock down a three-point shot to save his life after three years in the NBA, MKG’s career was finally showing some upside.

Kidd-Gilchrist entered the 2015-16 season with high hopes after working tirelessly on his outside shot. He was ready to debut his new-found talent and have the breakout season that everyone was waiting for. The hype was cut short in the team’s first preseason game when he dislocated his shoulder and would need surgery to repair the damage.

Despite the serious injury, Michael fought back and returned months sooner than expected. His return to the Hornets’ lineup immediately sparked life into the team and he was able to showcase the much-improve outside shot. But after impressing everyone with his play, his season halted once again as he suffered another shoulder injury and was forced to miss the remainder of the year. In a small sample size of only seven games, MKG averaged an encouraging 12.7 PPGand 6.4 RPG while shooting a career-high from the field (54.1%) and from the three-point line (42.9%).

Kidd-Gilchrist was FINALLY showing the improvement that everyone had waited to see and it was taken from us. After enduring criticism about his shooting form and poor shooting among other things, he now had to go through critics calling him “injury-prone.” The criticisms were all warranted but that doesn’t mean MKG likes hearing them. Like any other player, he probably wants to shut the critics up and show that he is a top-tier small forward.

The only notice that Michael got this offseason was when media members and people on Twitter were making fun of his shooting form. He doesn’t have the prettiest shot but if he can knock down outside shots consistently, then there isn’t anything to be made fun of. Kidd-Gilchrist could be this generations’ Shawn Marion with an ugly yet effective shot.

Now that he is finally healthy, Michael can show that he is a great all-around player with an improve jump shot. The 23-year old got off to an incredible start in the Charlotte Hornets’ first regular season game this year when they took on the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored a team-high 23 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for an impressive double-double.

MKG may not have knocked down a three-point shot but he did hit a mid-range jumper and got inside the paint relentlessly. He was outstanding on both sides of the court and his effort was unquestioned. If he can keep up this kind of play and not get injured, those same critics will turn into fans who will label him as an effective offensive and defensive wing player who can take Charlotte to the next level.

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The 2016-17 season can be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s breakout year where his play can finally be recognized. At only 23, MKG still has time to develop and become one of the better small forwards in the NBA today. Having a career season is one step closer to making that happen.