A Case For Michael Kidd-Gilchrist To Resume His NBA Career

 | 
January 1, 2023
UPDATED: 
January 1, 2023


Having been out of the headlines for some months, former NBA forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist reappeared in the news cycle recently, but not for playing. He appeared in the crowd at a Kentucky Wildcats game, his alma mater,

This appearance taken in conjunction with similar ones last season - in which Kidd-Gilchrist spoke of how he is not prioritising playing like he once would have done - gives off the distinct impression that he may be done with the game. In the 2021 stories, Kidd-Gilchrist expressly said he was not retiring; however, with 17 more months of basketball unemployment having gone past since he last said that, it is starting to look as though some time away may have turned into a permanent shift.

If so, it is an unusual move. These should be MKG's prime years, as he is still not 30 for nine more months. However, since starting 74 games in the 2017-18 season, Kidd-Gilchrist has barely been able to get a minute in the NBA, and has not signed in any other league at any point.

The following season, the Charlotte Hornets finally moved him out of the lineup after six years as a starter, and he recorded 1,179 minutes that reason in 64 appearances, all but three of which came off the bench. He was reasonably effective in this relief role, but the following season was bought out by the Hornets of the final season of his large second contract, and played only spot minutes of 12 more games in the final stages of the abridged 2019/20 season on a minimum salary contract with the Dallas Mavericks. And that, to date, has been that.

What worked against Kidd-Gilchrist was the lack of obvious development in his offensive game, and particularly in his jump shot. MKG's jump shooting form was famously - shall we say - askew, something particularly at odds with the norm considering the perfect correlation between his NBA career and the NBA's three-point explosion, particularly at the small forward spot that he came up playing.

What he did however do was slowly change positions, or at least allude to being able to do so. From a full-time three during the majority of his career, Kidd-Gilchrist slowly became a more regular four man, and towards the very end - including with the Mavericks - he eventually even became a small-ball centre. For single possessions, at least.

Standing only 6'7 and with only a 12.2% career rebounding rate, it is tough to imagine that Kidd-Gilchrist (or another like him) could easily work as a big-minute NBA centre, without having some preternatural defensive ability and/or floor spacing like P.J. Tucker. However, he need not be a big-minute anything. He needs only to be able to contribute in a small role. And much as he has been forgotten about, his physical profile and history of good defence suggests that he still could.

Strong, long and committed, MKG has the ability to switch onto all comers and bother them in at least some way. He contests regularly and effectively, bodying up and getting in the way, and while the lateral speed by the end was not what it was when he first came up, he does enough to be an irritant. Which is perhaps the best thing a defender can be.

Of course, the lack of shot - and general offensive awkwardness - made him a net negative on that end whose presence could make units bog down. This is not nothing, and if a team does decide they need a frontcourt defensive specialist, they do not necessarily have to go with the near-30-year-old who has been out of the game for two calendar years and whose profound flaw did not get fixed in a decade.

Nevertheless, if a team does need some frontcourt defence, perhaps for just a few possessions at the time as some sort of forward version of Mario West, Kidd-Gilchrist has the physical tools and some experience. Hopefully, he can find the time in his schedule.



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  • Chuck Parsons

    Chuck is Score LA’s Executive Director of Events and Marketing. He aims to help business owners and would-be entrepreneurs in Los Angeles improve their business practices.

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