2015-16 Season in Review | Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

by Quinton Wash

By Sam Perley, hornets.com

2015-16 Review | Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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Tipping Off
This past season for Hornets forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, cruelly served as a tantalizing reminder that nothing in the NBA is ever guaranteed as Charlotte’s primary wing defender suffered not one, but two devastating shoulder injuries seemingly back-to-back that limited him to just seven games this year. If there was any silver lining to Kidd-Gilchrist’s situation over the past several months, it’s that he played exceptionally well when he was healthy, putting up some of the best numbers of his career, irregardless of the small sample size. He’ll also be returning to a Hornets team looking to take the next step after finishing off its most successful season in recent memory despite the extended absence of one of its most important players.

First Injury Occurs in Orlando
Coming off a career year where he averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds, Kidd-Gilchrist’s first appearance in the 2015-16 NBA campaign came on the road in a preseason game against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 3. Shortly before halftime, Kidd-Gilchrist attempted to drive to his left down the middle of the paint past the Magic’s Tobias Harris only to have his feet slip out from underneath him, causing a hard fall to the floor with his right shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. Tests soon determined a dislocated shoulder and torn right labrum, the latter of which would require surgery with an initial recovery timetable of six months. Despite going under the knife on Oct. 6, Kidd-Gilchrist still made it to the airport the following morning at 6 a.m. to wish his Hornets teammates farewell as they embarked on their preseason trip to China for the NBA’s Global Games.

MKG Defies the Odds
The projected six months of rehabilitation seemed to serve as motivation for Kidd-Gilchrist as the former Kentucky Wildcat was cleared for contact by late January, roughly 15 weeks or so after undergoing surgery. Kidd-Gilchrist made his long-awaited season debut in a road game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 29, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and seven rebounds. He followed that performance up two days later with 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 101-82 road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. In their next game, Kidd-Gilchrist and the Hornets returned home for a Feb. 3 matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where the former tallied his second-consecutive double-double with 11 points and a season-high 13 rebounds in Charlotte’s 106-97 victory. Kidd-Gilchrist also poured in a season-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks in a 108-91 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 8.

Bad Luck Strikes Again
Charlotte’s pre-All-Star Break schedule concluded with a road matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 10, which unbeknownst at the time, was also going to be the final game of the season for Kidd-Gilchrist. While diving for a loose ball early in the second half, Kidd-Gilchrist got tangled with a couple of Pacers players, inadvertently causing Indiana center, Ian Mahinmi, to loose his balance and roll over Kidd-Gilchrist’s back as the latter was lying on the floor. This untimely accident ultimately caused Kidd-Gilchrist to retear the same right labrum he had worked so hard to come back from over the last several months. Another surgery would be required, which officially ended Kidd-Gilchrist’s 2015-16 season in the process.

Although he played just seven games, Kidd-Gilchrist still managed to put up averages of 12.7 points on 54.1 percent shooting, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Had Kidd-Gilchrist been able to maintain these numbers over the course of an entire season, he would have finished third on the Hornets’ roster in scoring and tied with Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson for the team lead in rebounding.

2016-17 Season Outlook
Kidd-Gilchrist has a guaranteed contract with the Hornets through the 2018-19 NBA season after signing a four-year extension in August 2015. Part of this new deal also includes a player option for the 2019-20 season as well. Although it was a tough year for the number two overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Hornets general manager, Rich Cho, remained very optimistic about Kidd-Gilchrist’s future with the organization during postseason exit interviews:

“With MKG, I know he’s going to work hard on his rehab. He’s been working hard with the medical staff [in Charlotte]. Both of those plays where he got injured were kind of freak plays. He’s not going to stop playing hard because that’s who he is. Hopefully he’ll stay healthy,” said Cho.

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