Charlotte Bobcats second-year forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down just a little over a month into the 2013-14 NBA season on Dec. 3, 2014 when he suffered a broken hand. His initial timetable for return said that he would be out of action for about six weeks. Just a little under six weeks later, MKG is set to return to action.
According to a report from Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Kidd-Gilchrist has been cleared to play on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks and Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford has said that he plans to have the 20-year-old in the starting lineup against the streaking Knicks.
As a whole, the Bobcats have been impressive this season, though their 15-23 record doesn’t totally reflect that. One of their biggest achievements this year is how greatly they’ve improved their defense. In the 2012-13 NBA season, the Bobcats were one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Looking to change the culture, Clifford has this team playing much better. Over their first 38 games this season, the Bobcats are currently the eighth best team in terms of defensive efficiency while allowing just 101.1 points per 100 possessions.
However, in the 19 games since Kidd-Gilchrist got injured, the Bobcats have seen a distinct decline in their play on defense. Part of that is due to Jeffery Taylor also being out, but MKG is definitely more of the influencing factor in the decline. Since Kidd-Gilchrist went down, the Bobcats have been surrendering 104.1 points per 100 possession, a full three points worse than their overall numbers for the year.
I expect there to be a bit of expected rust with Kidd-Gilchrist in his return, but he should help this team get back on the right track going forward. In the weak Eastern Conference, the Bobcats are still in the playoff race, but they need to be crisp on defense if they plan on making the postseason. It may take a few games, but Kidd-Gilchrist will be huge in getting them back to the level they need to be defensively.