Kidd-Gilchrist later celebrated by throwing a terrible cross-court pass in the closing seconds that became a turnover and led to a buzzer-beater by New York’s J.R. Smith that sent the Bobcats to their fifth straight loss.
This is how it often goes for rookies. One minute, they are surprising us all by playing above our expectations and showcasing an apparently limitless ceiling. The next, they are reminding us why they are rookies.
We don’t want to be too hard on MKG. His somewhat steady play, coupled with the recent emergence of teammate and fellow rookie Jeffery Taylor, are big reasons why the Bobcats already have matched last season’s win total and are clearly on the climb.
The NBA’s announcement pointed out that Kidd-Gilchrist is the only rookie in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks, which makes him a nice fantasy option in deep leagues but does not put him anywhere near contention for Rookie of the Year, which Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is turning into a runaway.
Charlotte’s surprising start likely gave MKG the award over Cleveland’s Dion Waiters and Washington’s Bradley Beal, who both score more, and Detroit’s Kyle Singler, who is right behind him. All three play for struggling teams, as do Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross.
Another reason may be that given minutes, Kidd-Gilchrist did something other than give them back.
It was disappointing that no less than 10 lottery picks – Anthony Davis, Beal, Thomas Robinson, Ross, Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Meyers Leonard, Jeremy Lamb, Kendall Marshall and John Henson – were not even nominated for the monthly rookie awards. In fact, Marshall already has been sent to the D-League.
With the exception of Ross (stuck behind Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan), Lamb (buried on OKC’s bench) and Marshall (Suns No. 3 point guard), every lottery pick came into a situation where they were virtually guaranteed minutes and had a chance to earn more. (To be fair to Davis, he is injured but has shown a lot when he has played.)
Instead, players such as Robinson, Rivers and Leonard have regressed and are being outplayed by unheralded second-round picks such as Taylor and Jae Crowder and undrafted free agents like Brian Roberts.
Hopefully, December will be a better month for some of the rookies who began this season with high expectations. But thus far, this class as a whole has been very underwhelming.
On to the rankings.