LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 07: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates during the exhibition game against the Morehouse Maroon Tigers at Rupp Arena on November 7, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
I have thus far spent my summer trying to figure out Andy Samberg's post-SNL career trajectory, pretending to care about that TV show Girls and Google imaging "vacation" as that's cheaper than an actual vacation. These accomplishments have accomplished little other than 1) convincing me that I may actually have a shot on Grantland's writing staff (I don't) and 2) allowing me to all too intimately understand the great lifeless vacuum that is the months of June and July. Having very little to do or distract you in the months where the season of going outside is celebrated by staying indoors can play tricks on your mind. It can cause you to fixate irrationally on people/places/things. This is why we have summer flings. And the Sactown Royalty collective have found their said summer fling, one Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
I'm not here to piss in any punch bowls (okay, maybe Sims', but that's only because he's into that sort of thing). But let us not forget that, other than a Maloof press conference, no event terrifies Kings fans more singularly than the NBA Draft. In this last decade we've seen Joakim Noah go a pick before Spencer Hawes; the Trailblazers trading-up for Jerryd Bayless with the Kings settling for the then unknown Jason Thompson; Ricky Rubio falling in our lap and falling out of it and into Minnesota's in favor of Tyreke Evans; and Petrie trading down in the draft for the chance to reacquire John Salmons. Now in hindsight not all of these deals have been bad; Bayless' career has more or less defined peripateticism in a way not dissimilar to another former Blazer lottery pick, Sebastian Telfair; Tyreke Evans' Rookie of the Year campaign helped make the Kings' compelling in a way Reggie Theus' self-immolation by self-flagellation did not; and I still really like Jimmer's pro potential, though I am, admittedly, slightly less enthusiastic about the pro potential of John Salmons. But Jesus Christ does anybody remember those actual Thursday evenings? The response to Thompson so devastating that the Trail Blazer SB Nation blog linked to it to taunt us? Our lamenting our inability to draft Joe Alexander? Admittedly that was probably just me, whatever, I still love you Vanilla Sky! The point is with the exception of the Cousins pick we've always believed, with reason, that we've been draft snake-bit. That if there was a 21 person draft we'd be picking 22nd, or trading the 21st pick for John Salmons and a second rounder.
And along comes Kidd-Gilchrist.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the second best player in this draft. I don't think that's a matter of perspective. I don't think it's hyperbolic. In fact that part of Kidd-Gilchrist's potential slide could be attributed to a lack of hyperbole to me only reinforces why he's the second best player here. NBrans would often warn us, come draft time, about the player that lacked a discernible skillset but whose stock was buoyed because he embodied Dick Vitale basketball. A guy who just got after it, who just played hard, a font of intangibles to make up for any suspicions scoring 40 against Loyola Marymount in February might arouse. Kidd-Gilchrist has been praised for his intangibles, but at the expense of his tangibles. This was one of the 5 most highly recruited guys coming out of his high school class. This was the second best player on a national championship team. This is a guy that can dunk, rebound, pass, score, defend better than almost anybody in college basketball. And yet he may slip in the draft because his peer was a great 3 point shooter...in high school...
Side note: This aspect of the draft, unique to the one and done, has never really made sense to me. It's like certain one and done players are punished for showing more game maturity than others. Part of the reason Sacramento was able to draft Cousins was that some argued Favors was still so raw that there was no real way to understand his potential. Never mind that Favors and Cousins had more or less identical backgrounds. Doesn't a person's inability to dominate in college the way they did in high school usually have less to do with not yet scratching their surface and more to do with, I don't know, no longer playing in high school?
Anyway, acknowledging Kidd-Gilchrist's talent I also acknowledge how he could reasonably slip in this draft. Charlotte, as Mr. Ziller has stated, needs immediate help, and immediate results and Robinson provides more immediacy than Kidd-Gilchrist. He's the Emeka Okafor of this draft. Which reminds me, isn't the fact that Charlotte keeps taking the Emeka Okafors of drafts the reason they keep taking the Emeka Okafors of drafts? The Wizards need outside shooting and, at least notionally, Bradley Beal provides that. Of course Luke Jackson also notionally provided outside shooting. Please remind me when they Kings draft Beal next Thursday that I compared him to Luke Jackson. And Cleveland seems fixated on Barnes. A fixation that I actually get. If the make-up of Sacramento's roster was a little different I could rationalize Barnes over Kidd-Gilchrist.
The make-up of this roster, however, isn't different. And Kidd-Gilchrist's skillset, tangible and otherwise, fits Sacramento. I do not care to belabor what's been stated time and again in comment and posts, insights that, frankly, were the inspiration for writing this at all. There are few better matches of player and need, of team and situation, Maloof ownership notwithstanding, than the Kings and Kidd-Gilchrist.
Which is why I am telling all of us to chill out. I know dare to dream is still dreaming but the reality is, as anybody a bra-strap away from sex can tell you, the closer you get to something tangibly happening the more desperate you get also. Pleasant surprises aren't so pleasant when they become unrealized expectations. Let's go back, just for this week, to being the hopeless lot we were, well, pretty much every draft the last 5 or so years. Let's assume Portland will suddenly rehire Kevin Pritchard 10 minutes before the Kings pick. Let's assume Kidd-Gilchrist has his mother cut his steak for him. Let's assume the Kings draft John Henson...okay maybe let's not assume that...but let's all assume the worst. Which isn't exactly a challenge anymore for Kings fans anyway.
I'm not saying this to be a dick, or dour, or depressive. Quite the opposite. I'm saying it because I actually think that the Kings are going to end up with Kidd-Gilchrist and I don't want us to jinx us. Wait...oh fuck...
So how do you all think Tyler Zeller will look in a Sacramento jersey?