There’s no doubt that Kemba Walker is the most impactful player for the Charlotte Hornets. His supporting cast leaves much to be desired and there are few names who jump out as Walker’s running mate and the 2nd best player on the squad. Jeremy Lamb? Malik Monk? Tony Parker? Who is after him?
It just might be forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Throwback to 2012 when Hornet fans were disappointed with receiving the second pick in that 2012 draft and receiving Kidd-Gilchrist instead of winning out on the polarizing now New Orleans Pelicans, superstar Anthony Davis. However, MKG has developed into a really solid player that truly has had a positive impact on this years Charlotte squad.
Kidd-Gilchrist’s impact on the win/loss column was perfectly displayed during the team’s second matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks this season. With the Hornets up three, MKG started the possession on point guard Eric Bledsoe before the inbound. He then switches onto center Brook Lopez after one screen and then switches onto shooting guard Khris Middleton after another.
He bottles up Middleton forcing him to pass back to Bledsoe. Kidd-Gilchrist still wasn’t done as he heavily contested Bledsoe’s shot at the buzzer and caused the miss. MKG did all of that in just 7.1 seconds! Kidd-Gilchrist does everything for the Hornets defensively and their record when he’s been out – 2-4 – reflects his importance to this team.
The stats show it too. Individually, MKG has had a 15% rebounding percentage (career high) and averages 1.3 blocks per game. His blocks per game ranks in the top 25 in the league and he’s only one of two wings who are in the top 25.
Per nba.com, Kidd-Gilchrist has a defensive rating of 100.8 and a net rating of 9.5, which would be good for the best on the team and is top 20 in the entire league. Even on the offensive side of the ball Kidd-Gilchrist is making a major impact. Per basketball reference, the Hornets are 8.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor. The Hornets top three 3-man lineups by net rating include also happen to include MKG in it. No matter what statistic you want to look at, it paints Kidd-Gilchrist as an impactful player.
Kidd-Gilchrist has always been a great defender but the position change this year makes it so that he no longer has a negative impact on the offensive end. He’s shooting 50% from the field and a career-high 38.5% from downtown. Although he only shoots around one 3 a game, any positive from three point land is amazing considering his horrid history as a shooter. His shooting has culminated into a career-high 56.4% true shooting. Add all of this up and MKG has his first positive offensive box plus minus of his career. He’s truly affecting the game on both ends of the floor.
In response to being moved to the bench, MKG is quietly having the best season of his career. His versatility defensively and his improvement on offense has him being a key cog for the Hornets and I’m ready to declare him as the second-best player on this team.