Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Cleveland Far From a Sure Thing

Is the sequel to this photo getting closer to reality? Perhaps.

Is the sequel to this photo getting closer to reality? Perhaps.

Is the sequel to this photo getting closer to reality? Perhaps.

On Wednesday, as word broke of the New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards trade, there was a lot of instant analysis being done in the media and in social media outlets as well.

One of the main assumptions everyone seemed to jump to was that this trade signaled Washington’s intent to draft Bradley Beal at #3. On Twitter in particular, Cavalier fans erupted in celebration. With so many whispers out of Charlotte indicating that Thomas Robinson was the direction they are leaning, this meant Michael Kidd-Gilchrist appeared to be falling into Cleveland’s lap at #4.

Could this really be happening? Could the player so many Cavs fans1 coveted all along really be sliding down to Cleveland? A cause for celebration indeed!

I hate being the resident pessimist, but we might want to slow down on ordering those MKG jerseys2. As much as we’re all guilty of forgetting this from time to time, myself included, putting any value into “reports” of who certain teams are leaning toward drafting is foolish.

Reporters are never present for inner-front office discussions on who teams like and what order they are ranking players. The only information reporters get comes from either agents (who are motivated to hype up their players’ stock) or from team executives who are selectively choosing which bits of information to give up.

Which isn’t to say you should never believe anything. If executives lied to reporters 100% of the time, eventually reporters would stop using them as sources. Most reporters are professionals who have sources they have built up a level of trust with over the years. It’s a symbiotic relationship where both parties more or less trust the other party to achieve results that appease everyone.

So when multiple sources are saying Thomas Robinson is Charlotte’s guy, this information doesn’t need to be totally dismissed. But it should be taken with a grain of salt. Charlotte isn’t going to tell anyone exactly what their plans are. That’s important to remember. However, there is just cause for buying into the notion that as of today, Charlotte really likes Robinson and he might be their pick.

What’s more encouraging for the MKGtoCLE movement are the reports of Charlotte’s lack of enthusiasm about MKG. With a supposedly less than stellar workout for Charlotte, rumors are that the Bobcats cooled significantly on their interest in him. ESPN’s Chad Ford has said that Harrison Barnes is Michael Jordan’s #2 choice behind Thomas Robinson. Again, grain of salt here, but it just doesn’t sound like MKG is going to Charlotte. Robinson, Barnes, and Beal sound like the options for Charlotte at #2.

So that leaves Washington at #3. After acquiring Trevor Ariza in yesterday’s trade, common sense would dictate that Beal is the guy they are zeroing in on. Or that’s what many of the NBA scribes were saying anyway.

On the surface, it makes sense. Washington just gave away a great trade piece in Rashard Lewis’s only partially guaranteed contract in order to get Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. In many ways, Washington may be trying to do with Ariza what Cleveland is ideally trying to do with MKG. The idea is to pair their young franchise PGs with an athletic wing player who can use defense to help kick start fast breaks and then run the open court and finish at the rim.

That’s the idea, anyway. And in some ways, MKG and Ariza are similar players. Both are phenomenal defenders who rely on their athleticism to overcome their shortcomings with their shot. So from that standpoint, you can see why people are assuming this takes MKG off the Wizards’ draft board.

But is Trevor Ariza really a long term solution for the Wizards? Remember, the Wizards already have Jordan Crawford at SG. Crawford may not have Beal’s ceiling, but Crawford showed some real potential in the 2nd half of last season. Since being acquired by the Wizards, Crawford has averaged a very respectable 15.11 points per game. Yes, he takes a lot of shots and lacks awareness and shot selection, but these are things you can develop.

If the Wizards believe MKG is a better player than Beal, then why not take MKG, let him coexist with Ariza for a couple seasons, and then proceed with your young backcourt core of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, and MKG?

I’m not saying this is what I think Washington will do. Rather, I’m just saying that we should slow down on assuming that just because they have Trevor Ariza there’s no way they’re going to pick MKG.

I can think of multiple scenarios where MKG is gone before the Cavaliers pick at #4. Charlotte is trying hard to trade the #2 pick. Someone could easily3 trade up to #2 to get MKG. Charlotte could decide that MKG is the 2nd best player in the draft and just take him. Charlotte could draft Beal, leaving Washington to fall back on MKG.

None of this is to say the Washington trade isn’t a reason for Cavs fans who covet MKG to celebrate. I’ve made no secret that MKG is the player I want in this draft. I had given up hope, but the chances of him falling to Cleveland at #4 are exponentially higher today than they were before the trade yesterday.

The point is just to use a little caution. There was a sentiment on Twitter yesterday, not just among Cavs fans but among many national NBA writers as well, that MKG going to Cleveland at #4 was a virtual sure thing now. It’s ok to be excited about this prospect, but it is anything but a sure thing.

We don’t even know that the Cavaliers are as high on MKG as many fans and writers are. Perhaps if MKG and Beal go 2 and 3, in some order, the Cavaliers will go with Thomas Robinson who, by several accounts, have a phenomenal workout with the Cavaliers yesterday. Perhaps Harrison Barnes is the guy Cleveland really wants.

There are so many variables and unknowns involved in the draft. It’s why mock drafts, while fun, are ultimately a silly endeavor. We only know what we have been allowed to know. The final decisions teams make are well guarded secrets that teams have zero motivation to leak. All we can do is try our best to read the tea leaves.

Today, I will fully admit that I do believe this is shaping up for MKG to be drafted by the Cavaliers. But so much can and will change before Thursday’s draft. So if you are one of the fans who are on Team MKGtoCLE, go ahead and be happy about the way this thing is trending right. But use caution. All it takes is one trade, one bad workout, one injury, one off court issue, or one executive to change his mind and tomorrow it could all look different.

  1. as well as Cavs writers on this site []
  2. I seriously think MKG should petition the league to allow him to just have MKG on the back of his jersey rather than Kidd-Gilchrist []
  3. well, easily is a poor choice of words if you believe reports that Charlotte is asking for the farm for the #2 pick []
  • DMohio

    I think even in the worst-case scenario (Davis, MKG, Beal going 1-2-3) we still end up with Barnes, a guy that many Cavs fans covet. I’d rather have MKG or Beal but it doesn’t look like the Cavs will be losers on draft day in any scenario.

  • http://twitter.com/KohlK50 KKaufman

    Why are Cavs fans so intent on MKG? He will be a solid player in the NBA (a more athletic Loul Deng) but has the lowest ceiling compared to Beal and Barnes. With the loss of Jamison and Sessions, this team desperately needs offense. I was not celebrating the trade. Beal has the look of a better shooting Wade, and would be the best selection for the Cavs, with Barnes a close 2nd.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I wouldn’t overlook Cleveland taking Robinson over Barnes 4th in that scenario. Cleveland has to take the best player available at #4, unless that player happens to be a PG (which it won’t be).

  • DMohio

    I don’t want Robinson at all.. I see your point, but with our lack of talent on the wings I would take a talented player at a position of need over a maybe slightly more talented Thomas Robinson, where we already have Thompson and Andy.

  • Jcu09

    I agree with many of your points but I don’t see Washington in any way drafting MKG. Besides for Ariza who plays a similar game, they drafted Jan Vessely last year who is also a SF. Crawford is way undersized to be a starting SG and I really doubt they want him to start.

    I don’t see either Charlotte or Washington drafting MKG but I think you are correct that the Cavs could take someone else (which I hope doesn’t happen)

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    “we might want to slow down on ordering those MKG jerseys”
    But it will pair great with my RG3 jersey!

    Speaking of which, why is it MKGtoCLE and not MKG2CLE? I was under the impression that we enjoy pairing initials and numbers….

  • C_Town

    Regardless of whos taken 1,2,3, the cavs are going to get a great player. Whether it be MKG, Beal, Barnes, or Robinson cavs will get someone who can hit buckets and thats all that matters. Don’t be surprised if Beal and Barnes are both there at 4 if we go Beal, Byron loves his guard play and is effective when hes got 2 small guards on the floor.

  • C_Town

    And if we take MKG or Barnes how will Lebron be able to come back to Cleveland? haha

  • mgbode

    whatever we do, at least we can be confident we are making an informed decision. the top5 picks won’t even work out for Sacramento (Davis, MKG, Beal, T.Robinson, Barnes). At least one of them will be available at the Kings slot.

  • mgbode

    I also think T.Robinson fits in nicely to the Wiz frontcourt rotation if he is available. It’s quite possible if the Bobcats go Barnes that the Cavs could have their choice of Beal/MKG.

  • mgbode

    I agree that we need to take the BPA regardless of position. I disagree that the player can be T.Robinson in any scenario at #4 (since I think he’s the 6th best prospect)

  • Tron

    Am I missing something on MKG? I mean i get that he attacks the rim and is a great defender, but his shot is all kinds of ugly. It takes him forever to actually shoot the ball, and when he does its low from his chest and he’s on the way down from his jump. I see this getting closed on or blocked a lot in the NBA. I’d feel more comfortable taking Beal or Barns, we need people who can knock down shots and score.

    If there’s more to MKG than I’m seeing please someone point me to a scouting video or something, because I’d love to as excited about him as everyone else is.

  • porckchopexpress

    I know its not fair to stuff a player into a box before he’s played a game, but when you look at the players whom MKG compares to, Iggy, Deng, Ariza, these aren’t guys that I want to draft at #4. Being a great 1-1 defender is a skill that can’t be dismissed, but we need to accept that it could be anywhere from 3-7 years before he has a reliable jumper, and maybe not at all (for all his greatness LBJ still is a streak shooter). My point is that if you take MKG you still need to find another wing scorer because MKG is probably going to top out at 15 a game, and in the playoffs athletic wings who get buckets in transition are one of the easiest players to scheme for.
    At this point I’m genuinely hoping for Robinson and then taking best available wings with the other picks. If Robinson/Beal are gone I really think I’d lean Barnes over MKG.

  • Tron

    OK glad I’m not the only one seeing it this way

  • Tim K.

    Bottom line: The Cavs are going to be in a position to get a player a lot of people like. Only time will tell if the cards fell in the right place. For now, let us rejoice!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    From an aesthetic point of view, I like having the lower case “to” which gives some space between the MKG and CLE. MKG2CLE looks too sloppy for my taste.

  • DK45

    It’s worth noting that Sam Amick, the only reporter who correctly predicted that the Cavs would take Tristan at #4 last year (and therefore presumably has some reliable front office sources), sees the Cavs taking Barnes OVER Kidd-Gilchrist in his latest mock draft.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    http://youtu.be/WTOzcSqivEI

    A) He is selective with his shot. He knows it’s his weakness and he doesn’t force it.

    B) There are ways to score besides outside shooting. MKG is phenomenal at playing off the ball, putting himself in positions to score or get a rebound. Just watch that video. Look at all the different ways he scores that doesn’t involve settling for an outside shot.

    C) IMO, it’s easier to teach someone how to fix a hitch in their shooting mechanics than it is to teach someone to have the heart, desire, leadership, and energy that MKG gives you.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Would you say LeBron James has a reliable jumper? Not to say MKG will be even close to LBJ, but I think people are too hung up on his shooting ability from the SF position. Hopefully that skill will develop, but even if it doesn’t, he is so good at scoring in other ways and he does so many other things to help the team win.

    And if you told me the Cavaliers could draft a player who will have Iggy’s skills at #4, I would take that in a heartbeat. I think sometimes it’s a bit easy to overstate how good top 5 players in the draft are expected to be. Just look at recent #4 picks: Tristan, Westbrook, Conley, Wesley Johnson, Tyrus Thomas, Tyreke Evans. It’s a crapshoot. If I can get Andre Iguodala out of that group, I’m taking it.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    If you were to ask me what I think the Wiz will do, I would agree with you, that I don’t think they would take MKG. However, it doesn’t matter what you or I think they should or will do. It only matters who their front office likes, and it could easily be MKG. That’s my point.

  • Natedawg86

    What is the opposite of “I heart NBA”

  • mgbode

    not to mention MKG is an acronym, but CLE is an abbreviation :)

  • mgbode

    piling on pointB above: MKG is an elite finisher in the paint. People complain he doesn’t shoot as well from the outside (valid point), but forget to mention that Barnes has struggled at times finishing in the paint.

    I love the MKG v. Barnes debates because they are so completely dissimilar in almost all respects of their games.

  • mgbode

    and Pippen and LeBron

    and all those guys are you mentioned are definitely pieces you need on a championship contending team. you cannot win a championship without elite wing defenders who are great in transition and can finish in the paint.

    if we draft Barnes (and I have no qualms about that either), then I hope it is as a SG.

  • mgbode

    replace the ‘he’ with ‘f’ I suppose

  • Tron

    Thanks for posting the video. I was looking for that one as I saw the similar one they did on Barnes. I can definitely appreciate his ability to move without the ball and finish at the rim. That type of skill set will probably compliment Kyrie a lot. The shot mechanic tho, I mean I suppose everyone has flaws. LeBron had a terrible shot coming out of HS too and this kid is no older than him. He did have some good drive, I can see what everyone is talking about with his hustle.

  • BA

    You can fix 1 or maybe 2 mechanical issues with a jump shot. Fixing 3-4 is a 4 year endeavor at best. In college MKG can get away with not being able to shoot because he is an elite athlete. In the pros, if you aren’t a threat on the perimeter, you will never be an elite NBA player from the SG/SF spots. If you are comfortable with Gerald Wallace stats, you pick him if available. Last I checked Wallace couldn’t even come into Portland with a very solid team and get them out of the first round of the playoffs. Career 31.8% from distance, about 6 Reb and 14 ppg is what MKG will get you.

  • BA

    No LeBron does not have a reliable jumper from anywhere on the floor. Guess what LeBron does have in his pocket? He is the biggest, strongest, most athletic player to ever play the SF position in the NBA. MKG is nowhere close to that level. Iguodala and Gerald Wallace don’t have championships because they aren’t good enough to be a team’s second option and are barely good enough to be a team’s third.

  • Harv 21

    what keeps me sane in this pre-draft frenzy is remembering that while we’ve now all decided who they absolutely must get, we have zero idea how any of these kids will do, who will be solid and who will be great. We label kids with one year of college coaching as if their ability to improve is predictable, when their own college coaches wouldn’t be able to predict it (and the kids themselves have no idea). There’s undoubtedly a bust or two in the top 7, and very possible someone other than Anthony Davis in this draft will one day be in the HOF. Last year people were apoplectic about Jonas V and Williams and Kanter, nobody about Thomas and the other picks who now look great. I’d laugh if our #24 turns out as good or better than our #4.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    But that’s my point. You don’t need a reliable jumper to make an impact on the game. I already clearly specified that no, MKG will not be anywhere near LeBron’s level. But MKG does a lot of things really great that help teams win basketball games. People just say MKG can’t shoot, as though that fact alone means he can’t be a great player. I strongly disagree with that notion.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I’d take it even further. I think you’re being kind when you only expect 1 or 2 of the top 7 to be busts. I expect 3 or 4 of them to be busts. Drafting in the NBA is just so, so hard.

  • BA

    I see your point, but rumors of MKG’s superior athleticism are greatly exaggerated. You can’t use LeBron and MKG in the same sentence for that exact reason. I believe as an athlete he is similar to Wallace and less of an athlete than Iggy. When you can’t shoot at all, it does prevent you from being a great player. I have never heard anyone say Iggy/Wallace/Ariza are great basketball players. I know you posted the DraftExpress video earlier. MKG is not nearly as good going to his right and in the NBA teams will adjust. Don’t get me wrong, he will be a solid 3rd or 4th option on a good team. Barnes can be a #2 option and I would take him any day over MKG. Main reason, they aren’t as far apart defensively as some people are saying.

  • porckchopexpress

    Counterpoint: He is so good at scoring in other ways playing with 4 other guys who are going to be drafted and he is generally the most athletically gifted wing every time he steps on the court.
    Both of these luxurys will disapear in the pros.
    I can’t honestly say I like Barnes any better, I’m just equally nervous about both of them. Optimistically we could fuse their genetic material and artificially inseminate Layla Ali with it, Then its just a matter of tanking the 2030 draft to draft MKGB Ali.

  • Jack Brickman

    The one question I have is…what is the Bobcats’ incentive to lie about who they like? There is only one team picking ahead of them: New Orleans. New Orleans is definitely picking Anthony Davis. That’s not exactly a mystery. Therefore, Charlotte essentially has the first uncertain pick in the draft.

    If you’re Charlotte, what’s the point of smokescreens? It’s not like New Orleans is going to decide to draft the guy you’re high on, and if anyone were to trade up to the number one pick (it won’t happen, but this is hypothetical), they’d be picking Davis, which means Charlotte would still have their pick of the best of the rest.