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.
â€œItâ€™s home, right?â€™â€™ said Kidd-Gilchrist. â€œItâ€™s home. Iâ€™ve always been a Knicks fan. My favorite players are Al Harrington and Andre Iguodala, although [Iguodala] didnâ€™t play for the Knicks. Al Harrington is one of my favorite players ever and he played for the Knicks coming up.â€
â€œItâ€™s a talented group â€” young, active, lots of energy,â€™â€™ he said. â€œAnd Iâ€™m the vet of the locker room â€” which is crazy. Itâ€™s my ninth year in the NBA. Just being a leader, man, on and off the court.â€
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.
â€œMichaelâ€™s been around, heâ€™s got a lot of different experiences,â€™â€™ Thibodeau said. â€œI think the challenge for him is the way our league has changed, he has to find a way to fit in. Heâ€™s always been a great competitor. Hopefully, he can add to the group, his experiences being a veteran, working hard. And heâ€™s done that for us.â€
The hopes are that Michael can add defensive prowess to the team, and while heâ€™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 didnâ€™t add any elite scorers this offseason, but I expect Toppin to be a focal point moving forward.