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Nardone: Let’s get unreasonably excited about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Damn you, one-game sample sizes, and you turn a fun-loving NBA fan base into a horde of rabid animals. Also, you have presented us with the opportunity to discuss specific players in the most hyperbolic of ways. Speaking of–hello there, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — you sexy beast you.

Kidd-Gilchrist has always been one of the weirder players to discuss in the league. Coming from Kentucky, most initially pegged him a “can’t miss talent” due to what many thought would be his easy-to-translate defense, but was meant to be a work-in-progress on offense.

The latter of those two ideas became such a fact, as his offense was as scary (in a bad way) as any Stephen King novel, that many forgot about the idea of him having the potential to become a player of high consequence in the NBA.

It is a regular-game fans’ and media play. New, shiny thing is entering the league (players), and if that thing doesn’t inspire us with magical acts of whatever almost immediately, we lose track of it for other newer, shinier things.

As it tends to happen, this offseason began a few months ago, and videos of MKG’s “improved” jumper floated about the mean streets of Twitter. In those videos, he displayed a still-ugly jumper, but the outcome of those undefended shots changed, as many of them went in.

In a way, it was meant to showcase how much better of a shooter he was going to be during this season while ignoring the fact those videos presented him shooting threes without being guarded. All high hilarity if we are honest about it.

Sincerely, it was hard to take those videos seriously. They were coming from the player’s camp, and rare is the Vine (RIP) or YouTube highlight clip designed to do anything other than make a talent look awesome. After all, there’s not exactly a huge market for “highlight reels” featuring guys going 2-24 from beyond the arc. If there were, Kidd-Gilchrist would have had that market cornered years ago.

But that was all so yesterday, though. We have an ENTIRE singular outing to reevaluate his game!

 

Still only 23-years-old, don’t let the box-score fool you — at least not entirely. While far more aggressive offensively than some have grown used to, Kidd-Gilchrist’s “improved” jumper didn’t make many appearances. While scoring an impressive 23 points on a more than solid 10-18 shooting, the small forward failed to make both of his attempts from beyond the arc and didn’t make a whole bunch of mid-range shots either.

That’s the bad. And, really, it was otherwise mostly good.

MKG would add 14 boards, a steal, and a block in Charlotte’s season-opening win over the Milwaukee.

It isn’t a box-score — 23-14-1-1 — we should regularly expect out of the former prized NBA Draft pick, but maybe this is the year we finally see a more fully-rounded Kidd-Gilchrist trotting about the NBA.

Disclaimer: Whenever someone says a more “fully-rounded” player, at least in terms relative to Kidd-Gilchrist, we are talking about him becoming offensively competent-to-good.

Before this season, MKG — who miss almost all of last season — always had good-enough-looking lines to keep people off his back. Despite anyone who has ever watched him play having the ability to make fun of his horrific looking stroke, there were other people (I assume they don’t actually watch basketball) who would point to his solid field goal percentage (while ignoring his abominable three-point numbers) as “proof” that he was better offensively than given credit for.

He wasn’t, for what it is worth.

That didn’t even change after the Hornets’ first game of the season. He scored his 23 points by attacking the rim. Sure, he hit a couple of jumpers, but he wasn’t creating his own offense on pull-up shots. Rather, whenever he was “creating his own offense” with the ball in his hand, he was attacking the rim — which, clearly, is fine. It’s just more of the same, though. We know this version of MKG already.

If the Hornets want to get better, it needs Kidd-Gilchrist to be better. He was so in game-one of the 2016-17 NBA season. But even the most optimistic can’t get too hyped over the performance, as the biggest question mark surrounding the two-way player remains the same… can he hit gosh slam jumpers with regularity?

If he can, maybe we will get that version of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist we’ve all been dreaming about. Then again, if you’re dreaming about him and not something non-NBA related, honestly, what in the hell is wrong with you?

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