NBA Draft: Bobcats take Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2
By Steve Reed
CHARLOTTE — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is hoping to do for the Charlotte Bobcats what Cam Newton did for the Carolina Panthers.
That means giving them a face of the franchise and cultivating a winning culture.
“I hope so,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “I definitely hope I can do something like that, yeah. I’m a winner, so I don’t see why not.”
Owner Michael Jordan is banking on it.
Jordan’s Bobcats selected Kidd-Gilchrist, a small forward from Kentucky, with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, marking the first time two players from the same school have gone first and second overall. Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis was selected No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Hornets.
The Bobcats added another small forward in Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor with the first pick in the second round (31st overall).
“It gives is more depth at the small forward position because we have two guys that came come in and play right away,” said Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins. “Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can play, particularly on the defensive end, multiple positions. Jeffery Taylor is a predominantly a 3-man and but he adds value and something to our team that we sorely needed and that’s perimeter shooting.”
Kidd-Gilchrist will have an unusual transition, going from winning the national championship with the Wildcats to playing for the NBA’s worst team. Charlotte finished 7-59 last season and had the lowest winning percentage (.106) in league history.
But he doesn’t foresee the Bobcats staying down long.
He said he wants to help bring a winning culture to Charlotte — and soon.
“I’m a leader on and off the court,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “I’m a winner and I hate losing.”
The Bobcats had been in trade talks with several teams involving the No. 2 pick for most of the day before making Kidd-Gilchrist their highest draft pick in franchise history since selecting Connecticut center Omeka Okafor second overall in 2004.
“We had a lot of conversations going, but at the end of the day we felt comfortable selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist,” said Higgins. “He was our number option and that’s the bottom line.”
Kidd-Gilchrist said he had no idea leading up the draft the Bobcats were going to select him.
He finally heard the news from his agent Leon Rose.
“I was shocked when they first called my name,” said Kidd-Gilchrist.
The 6-foot-7 Kidd-Gilchrist played only one season at Kentucky, where he helped them to a championship along with fellow freshman Davis.
The previous highest pick in the Jordan era was the mustachioed Adam Morrison, who was selected third overall in 2006 and quickly flamed out.
Jordan has taken plenty of criticism for that pick.
Kidd-Gilchrist can provide an immediate impact on offense. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his only season at Kentucky and stepped up in some big games.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Taylor averaged 16.1 points, second-best in the SEC and chipped in with 5.6 rebounds per game last season.
He worked hard in the offseason to improve his 3-point stroke and it certainly paid off. Taylor connected on more 3-pointers as a senior (66) than he did his first three seasons (49). With opponents forced to respect his perimeter game, Taylor became more dangerous when driving the lane.
Cho said the Bobcats still have needs to fill and will do so in free agency.
“We can always use some big men and some size in the backcourt also,” said Cho. “Those are probably our two most pressing needs.”