By Matt Rochinski
October 5, 2012
Charlotte, NC – Bobcats rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor have yet to receive their backpacks.
Fans who have been following the Cats for sometime now know exactly what I’m talking about. Who could forget D.J. Augustin’s bright pink Hello Kitty backpack or Gerald Henderson’s North Carolina blue pack signed by none other than Raymond Felton?
But at least for now, Kidd-Gilchrist and Taylor are safe. Much of this could be attributed to the attitude Kidd-Gilchrist took back in Las Vegas Summer League and has carried with him to Training Camp in Asheville, NC.
“I’m loving everything about this organization,” Kidd-Gilchrist told me back on Media Day. “I’m learning from all my teammates – especially the vets – and am looking forward to camp.”
Since coming to Asheville, Kidd-Gilchrist has been a proverbial sponge, soaking up every bit of knowledge he can from his teammates and coaches both on and off the court. After just one season at Kentucky and only nine days removed from his 19th birthday, Kidd-Gilchrist is in the NBA’s version of basketball boot camp. With two-a-day practices and multiple video sessions, there are few things he’s seen the last week other than the court, the inside of a bus and his hotel room as he tries to process everything that’s been thrown at him in a short period of time.
“He’s doing the right thing and asking questions of us,” said teammate Kemba Walker. “He always comes to the vets, or he comes to me a lot and I just try to explain things to him. It shows that he wants to get better and wants to learn. He’s not afraid to ask for help and ask questions. That’s a great attitude to have as a rookie – to be able to go up to the vets and try to figure things out. That’s a real sign of respect.”
With the Bobcats first preseason game just two days away, things are only going to get more difficult as things amp up for the regular season starting in November. But from what Head Coach Mike Dunlap has seen so far, MKG is showing signs he’ll be up to the challenge.
“We haven’t put our whole playbook in yet, but everything that he’s done this week, shows he’s high level,” said Dunlap. “He’s spatially intelligent, he’s coachable and he’s smart with people. That’s where I think his intelligence is the highest because he’s the kind of guy everybody gravitates to. He’s attractive because he’s non-threatening with his prowess. He’s very humble, and that’s attractive to his teammates, so when they talk about him they say they want to take care of him.
“That all goes into the cup of where’s he going to go a month from now or two months from now. He’s on a high curve – an ascension – because of that coachability.” While Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive tenacity and offensive aggressiveness will ultimately be key to helping the Bobcats win basketball games, his attitude and maturity could be crucial to building bonds with his teammates as Charlotte takes its game to the next level.
“He’s a very mature kid who grasps all the different areas of NBA life,” said the 23-year-old Taylor. “You have to be mature like that because you have so much more responsibility. I think he’s done a great job of handling everything. I don’t think I would have done that good of a job when I was 19.”
For now, MKG has been able to help keep the packs of his and Taylor’s backs. That’s freeing up some space for when Kidd-Gilchrist might need to carry the Bobcats to some wins this season.