Knicks’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist bringing stellar defense home to New York

New York Knicks, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Oct 11, 2019; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) sets up a play during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

All the way back in 2012, Anthony Davis was selected first in the NBA draft, and right after him, Michael Kidd Gilchrist was chosen second overall by the then Charlotte Bobcats. Fast forward to 2020, and Kidd-Gilchrist is on the New York Knicks, looking to rejuvenate his career after making a pitstop in Dallas last year.

Coming to New York was always a desire for the 6-foot-7 small forward. He grew up in Camden County, New Jersey. At 27 years old, he still has plenty of juice in his bones, representing a fantastic defensive player who can add to Tom Thibodeau’s strategy. However, it is going to be difficult to crack the starting roster with the Knicks stockpiling players at every position to add competitiveness during training camp.

“It’s home, right?’’ said Kidd-Gilchrist. “It’s home. I’ve always been a Knicks fan. My favorite players are Al Harrington and Andre Iguodala, although [Iguodala] didn’t play for the Knicks. Al Harrington is one of my favorite players ever and he played for the Knicks coming up.”

As a ninth-year veteran, Kidd-Gilchrest is looking to leave his mark on the locker room. His experience in the NBA will be extremely beneficial for some of the younger players like RJ Barrett and rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley.

“It’s a talented group — young, active, lots of energy,’’ he said. “And I’m the vet of the locker room — which is crazy. It’s my ninth year in the NBA. Just being a leader, man, on and off the court.”

Last season with two different teams, Michael averaged 2.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and shot .333 from the floor. He only averaged 11.2 minutes per game, a significant drop off from his 18.4 the season prior. Bringing him to New York is a change of scenery after spending eight underwhelming seasons with Charlotte. He never managed to reach his potential after Michael Jordan selected him in 2012.

“Michael’s been around, he’s got a lot of different experiences,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think the challenge for him is the way our league has changed, he has to find a way to fit in. He’s always been a great competitor. Hopefully, he can add to the group, his experiences being a veteran, working hard. And he’s done that for us.”

The hopes are that Michael can add defensive prowess to the team, and while he’s not much of an offensive scorer, he can be a situational player that helps off the bench.

Thibodeau has a long journey ahead to find a consistent starting five this upcoming season, but he must find ways to put points on the board with a team that has struggled to do that in recent years. They didn’t add any elite scorers this offseason, but I expect Toppin to be a focal point moving forward.