Update, February 10, 10:40 p.m.: The Mavericks are near a deal with Kidd-Gilchrist, per multiple reports. Dallas will waive everyone’s favorite accountant, Ryan Broekhoff, to make room on the roster.
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How much do you believe in the Mavericks’ system? Honestly.
Well, we have a good guess on how much the Mavericks believe in it, because they are reportedly the destination for forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after he finalizes a buyout with the Charlotte Hornets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon. Dallas will need to waive someone to make room, with Courtney Lee, Ryan Broekhoff and Justin Jackson the most likely candidates.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who was drafted number two overall in 2012, fits into a Mavericks roster that is desperate for any basketball player between the height of 6’5 and 6’9 and can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. Unfortunately, I don’t even know if Kidd-Gilchrist does that. He will be, by far, the Mavericks’ boldest reclamation project yet.
There are shades of Dorian Finney-Smith and Al-Farouq Aminu in Kidd-Gilchrist, but they don’t truly compare. To put this in perspective: the Hornets are lousy and Kidd-Gilchrist has been reduced to piling up DNP-CDs. He’s only 26, so theoretically if he had some value to the team, the Hornets would keep him. This isn’t a Marvin Williams situation, where an older veteran role player is jettisoned from a tanking team. This is a disappointing player still in his prime being let go by a team that can’t win many games. The Mavericks have their work cut out for them.
For his seven and a half seasons in the NBA, Kidd-Gilchrist is a 28 percent three point shooter. In those seven seasons he has attempted 100 three pointers.
Yes, 100. Not per season. For his career. That is 0.2 per game.
Simply calling Kidd-Gilchrist a bad shooter would be like calling the heat death of the universe a bummer of a day. He is the inverse of spacing — he is negative spacing. That’s, well, not ideal for what the Mavericks are trying to do.
Here’s the thing, though: Dallas is getting absolutely zero from their bench wings as of this moment. Jackson floated out to space sometime in December and I’m convinced whatever we see on the court is some alien doppelganger that has replaced him. He shot 37 percent from the floor and 24.4 percent from three for the month of January. He also shot a floater off the side of the backboard earlier this week. Broekhoff has been given a chance to take his minutes recently and he hasn’t produced either. He’s only 4-for-16 from three in February and his defense isn’t great. Neither is Jackson's! So the theory, if I understand the Mavericks correctly, is this — it can’t get any worse, the bench wings are giving the Mavericks nothing on both sides of the ball and Kidd-Gilchrist will at least provide them some defense and some rebounding.
Dallas obviously believes in its ability to not only get this out of Kidd-Gilchrist but perhaps even some more. They’re on a bit of a heater with turning other teams trash into their treasure over the last five to six years. Look at Finney-Smith, Aminu, Brandan Wright, and even Monta Ellis. If you have a discernible basketball skill, the Mavericks will pick you up off the streets, brush the dirt off your clothes, give you a home cooked meal and drop you into Rick Carlisle’s flowing offense and squeeze whatever basketball juice you have.
The thing with Kidd-Gilchrist though, is that he sucks up spacing like a violent black hole. There are limits to what a team can do with a guy that shoots like this:
During just about every season Kidd-Gilchrist has been in Charlotte, the Hornets have been lousy on offense. In his first three seasons, the best the offense was when he was on the floor scored 102 points per 100 possessions. That number trended up a little as Kemba Walker turned himself into an All-NBA guard, but there’s a reason Walker left the Hornets for greener pastures in Boston. The team around him was never that good and the failure of Kidd-Gilchrist to live up to his draft stature played a role in that.
Now, with a new situation and a new team that can generate spacing out of a can of soup, who knows. The Mavericks will likely use Kidd-Gilchrist’s length and effort on offense to get him looks going toward the rim, perhaps using him as the roll man in a pick and roll or strategically putting him around the dunker’s spot to get some buckets off penetration. I doubt the Mavericks do anything noticeable with his shot with less than half a season left and he’ll likely be on another team come this summer.
This is a play mainly to bring some sort of defensive edge to a team that has completely lost any it had to even begin with, as evidenced by the disheartening buzzer-beating loss to the Wizards on Friday. All season I’ve noted the Mavericks do not make teams feel them when the Mavericks are on defense. Kidd-Gilchrist has that ability, to make people feel uncomfortable. Whether that’s enough to offset his rancid shooting, who knows. The Mavericks are in a position to spin the wheel and see where it lands.