2012 NBA Draft: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and Growing Debates


Volume versus efficiency. Finesse versus raw athleticism. Relatively regal or standard with a hyphen.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers owning the fourth spot in the upcoming NBA Draft1, and every selection beyond the first-overall being laced with various layers of mystery, there is a growing belief that Chris Grant and his staff, if they stay put, will have their choice among the best small forwards in the pool: North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Both players providing solid character traits, ideal size and high-grade pedigree, both players having strong personal ties to last year’s first-overall pick in point guard Kyrie Irving — Barnes sharing the same agent and pre-draft itinerary — but each player coming equipped with his own brand of getting-it-done skills. Kidd-Gilchrist has long been considered one of this year’s top prospects due to his size, defensive prowess and aggressiveness at the rim, but concern surrounding his perimiter game have forced some to cast dispersions. Barnes, one of last year’s highly desired prospects, finds himself coming off of an up-and-down season, but provides the offensive game — specifically, one of the best mid-range games in the draft — that could easily be plugged in to a team lacking firepower from the wing.

Until recently, Kidd-Gilchrist has seen his name penned into the No. 2 spot on many mock drafts. He also happenes to be a target of many Cavalier fans who were relatively disappointed to land the fourth-overall pick. Being among the best in his peer group at getting to the rim, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged nearly half a free throw attempt per possession in 2011-122. Boasting a true shooting percentage of 58.0, his lack of range is easily trumped by his efficiency. His 9.5 rebounds per-40 minutes and 3.3 offensive rebounds per-40 minutes3 easily leads his peer group. Factor all of this in with the salient points that not only will the ball will likely be in the hands of one Kyrie Irving more often than not, and Byron Scott’s Princeton offense is predicated upon ball movement and slashing to the rim, having a wing player who doesn’t require the ball to be in his hands but can still make a large impact is integral.

Barnes, on the other hand, ranked dead last among his peer group when it came to assist-to-turnover ratio, rarely looking to create shots once the ball was placed into his hands. Certainly his rebounding totals would have been a bit better if not for the big men in Chapel Hill, but lets not forget that Kidd-Gilchrist played along side the best big man in the nation.

There is no denying Barnes’ offensive game — he is, after all, among the top-five in points per-40 minutes among his peers. His usage rate allows him to get to the line very often, a place where he converts and an above-average rate. But if Barnes has displayed much of anything, it’s that he’s very much a catch-and-shoot player who opts to utilize his mid-range skill set rather than attacking the rim. This facet undoubtedly leaves Barnes less prone to injury while also helping keep would-be defenders away from the rim. And, given that we are talking about the NBA here, it’s undoubtedly worth mentioning that the North Carolina product comes with an increased business acumen as well as elevated marketability.

If these two players have any similarities, right now it is that neither player has a desire to get past the Cavaliers this Thursday, both having refused to work out for the Sacramento Kings who select fifth.

If we were to use recently updated mock drafts as a ballot, the votes appear to be split between these two players eventually calling Cleveland their home for at least the next four years. DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony, CBS’s Jeff Goodman, CBS’s Matt Moore and the recent mock held by SB Nation have the Wine and Gold pulling the trigger on Kidd-Gilchrist. ESPN’s Chad Ford, SI’s Sam Amick, and Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico think that the love affair which dated back to last June lies in the favor of Barnes.

“The Cavs have virtually nothing on the wing going into next season and would be happy to see Kyrie Irving’s former high school teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist available right here,” writes Givony. “Kidd-Gilchrist could fill an immediate hole, bringing intensity and toughness that will immediately improve Cleveland’s shaky perimeter defense.”

“In the past few days, it appears Barnes has moved ahead of Kidd-Gilchrist on the Cavs’ board,” writes Ford. “The team needs shooters and believes he’s further along. The Cavs love Kidd-Gilchrist, too, but it sounds as if he has become a tougher sell thanks to his limited offensive repertoire.”

It was Amick who shed light on the Cavs’ attraction to Barnes, and we would be remiss if we did not mention that it was indeed Amick who had the Cavaliers drafting Tristan Thompson with the fourth-overall selection one season ago.

Either way, the Cavaliers will be improved come Friday morning. The matter in which they choose to do it, however, will remain to be seen and will likely be debated regardless of which player hears his name called at approximately 7:30pm on Thursday night4.

  1. Assuming they don’t do this []
  2. All stats courtesy of DraftExpress []
  3. With rebounds considered to be the most transferable skill from the collegiate to NBA level. He also led the group in blocked shots, for what it’s worth []
  4. WFNY’s final Not-so-Big Board will be updated, one last time, on Thursday afternoon []
  • Andrew

    I would love to see us grab Barnes. If you told me last spring we would end up with Barnes and Irving, I’d say that’s the absolute best case scenario.

    That said, I would not be disappointed with MKG.

  • JeBron_Lames

    MKG > Barnes IMO

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I wouldn’t be unhappy with either to be honest. I’m going to be anxious to see whether the Cavaliers do indeed trade Varejao in a deal for that #7 pick. If for some reason they end up with Barnes #4 I’d love to see Lamb @ 7. They’d still have a few later draft picks to add a big man or two but a trio of Irving, Barnes & Lamb is drool worthy. Draft can’t get here soon enough.

  • steve-o

    MKG has an all around game that is missing a jump shot. Barnes has a jump shot that is missing an all around game. This should not be a tough call.

  • maxfnmloans

    everything points to MKG being the better player for the NBA. I heard Chad Ford say on Mike and Mike this morning something about how the two things MKG lacks (a shot, a handle) are two things that can be worked on and improved. He also said the intangible stuff, like heart, toughness and a willingness to subjugate his game for the good of the team (which cannot be taught) he has in spades. So, my head says MKG (if we are lucky enough to have him fall to us at 4).

    But I still have this hunch about Barnes that he’s not going to struggle witht he off the court stuff in the NBA, the game wont be too big for him and he will be able to give us some scoring from the wing, made even easier by Kyrie being totally awesome. The heart still likes Barnes better, and I cannot rationalize it through numbers.

    I’m kinda glad this isn’t my decision to make

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    I never got on the bandwagon of wanting Lamb at the 4th pick because I think Barnes and MKG are better but if we can get one of those two plus add Lamb I might do a cart wheel. Don’t Rule out Waiters at the 7 either. Bring in MKG and Waiters and you might have a Tenacious
    D! (1)
    (1) Also a great band!

  • deesh

    And if we trade up for Beal?

  • http://twitter.com/The_Real_Du Derek DuRoss

    I continue to go back and forth. However, my gut tells me to go for MKG. He is only 18, had tremendous upside and is fiercely competitive. When you have a guy on your team that absolutely despises losing (MJ, Kobe, etc.) it makes the rest of the team so much more competitive, focused, etc. My brother-in-law is like this on a BB court and trust me, I did NOT want to let him down.

    Should be interesting…

    BTW Scott…please tell me Andre Drummond is no where near on the Cavs radar.

  • Jack

    Beal or bust.

  • Kizo

    With the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Derek DuRoss’s brother-in-law.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Waiters @ 7 is far to high for me for starters but if MKG is the Cavaliers first selection I can’t see taking Waiters next also because of his horrible shot. If Thompson/Varejao are around you need a scorer most likely in the form of a shooter and for me that would be Lamb. But it all depends on that first selection and how Grant wants to proceed. The nice thing for the Cavaliers are the options and versatility in the draft.

  • FantasyTrophies

    I think I’ve changed my mind at least 6 times on this draft. Right now it’s leaning towards MKG. Tomorrow it will be Barnes and then it will be Beal. Hurry up and just get here already!

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Didn’t realize that Amick called the Tristan Thompson pick last year. Great bit of info.

  • http://www.facebook.com/WeKnowBrevard Brad Kuhns

    We need somone that can put the rock in the hole……Barnes it is if we can’t get Beal….either way we are losing 17+pts per game losing Jamison…we have enough people that can’t shoot. As far as teaching someone to shoot being an easy thing i beg to difer. If that was the case we would have done it with our players long ago.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    How about the following:

    Cavs trade #4 and #24 to Portland for #6, #11, and #40.
    Cavs trade Anderson Varajeo, #33, and #40 to Golden State for #7.
    Cavs trade #7, #34, and their first rounder(s?) next year to Charlotte for #2.

    Cavs end up with #2, #6, and #11. Beal, Barnes, big guy or Beal, big guy, SF.

    Is that unrealistic? We know Golden State is looking for something along those lines. Rumors are that Portland is looking for something along those lines. And Charlotte can trade out of #2 like they want, stockpile picks like they want, and still tell their fans they got a top player at #7.

    Cavs meanwhile end up with a starting five of guys drafted near the top of two consecutive drafts who can be around together long enough as a ‘Fab Five’ to seriously contend. Who knows, maybe they’ll even stay! (gasp)

    Is this incredibly off? Or just unlikely because of all the moving parts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Murphy/30101207 Joe Murphy

    I wouldn’t rule out drafting Thomas Robinson and trading Anderson Varejao. If Grant sees T-Rob as a tier 1 PF but Barnes as a tier 2 SF, he might get creative.

  • http://twitter.com/KappNeffect Kapp N’ Effect

    Barnes….. Grant will do a swell job I think getting the right guys so I am just excited to see who we get and how it unfolds…not unhappy about any pick cause we never know how it will turn out.

  • http://twitter.com/KappNeffect Kapp N’ Effect

    Well… you’re sure optimistic..lol I won’t hold my breath on this though

  • http://twitter.com/KappNeffect Kapp N’ Effect

    We definitely need a shooter… we have enough bricklayers

  • http://twitter.com/KappNeffect Kapp N’ Effect

    You and me both!

  • http://twitter.com/The_Real_Du Derek DuRoss

    Sorry…a bit past his prime at age 44.

  • AP

    For starters, I don’t think Portland will give up #6 &#11 for #4 and #24, let alone tossing in #40. I think there are plenty of players Portland is happy with @6. No reason for them to give up so much to move up 2 slots.

  • JoshKess

    God help us.

  • BA

    MKG has a well rounded average game. Barnes has one area of his game that is well above average, but also a well rounded game. You are right, it isn’t a tough call, MKG is Gerald Wallace, Barnes could be Glenn Rice. Hmmm

  • BA

    MKG will never have better numbers than Gerald Wallace. Yes you can say MKG is not a numbers guy, he is a glue guy that holds the team together. That is the type of player I would like to snag in the middle of the 1st round. If you are going for a player with bigger upside, you have to go with Barnes. Also, MKG’s jump shot is well beyond broken, and he has worked on it for hours a day for most likely his last 2-3 years with little to no improvement. It isn’t going to get much better: legs spread way too wide on jump, flailed out elbow, low release, releasing the ball while coming down from peak = minimum of 4 years to correct, but more likely never.