Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got a vote of confidence from coach Steve Clifford last week. Did he deserve it? David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got a vote of confidence from coach Steve Clifford last week. Did he deserve it? David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Tom Talks

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Tom Sorensen

Hornets coach Steve Clifford hands out an unusual vote of confidence

By Tom Sorensen

Correspondent

September 13, 2017 11:12 AM

Steve Clifford, the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, did something unusual at his annual preseason meeting with the media. Without being asked, he said that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would remain his starting small forward.

Last season we saw what Kentucky guard Malik Monk could do. The Hornets selected Monk in the first round of the NBA draft with the 11th pick.

At 6-3, Monk is going to score on you. He is going to find his way to the basket or hit from distance. Fans know what Monk can do. What can’t he do? They don’t know yet.

We know what Kidd-Gilchrist, who like Monk played a season at Kentucky before heading to the NBA, can’t do. He can’t score, not really. When Kidd-Gilchrist hits a jump shot, it always feels like a surprise.

We like new. Go to a new restaurant in Charlotte. The restaurant is jammed. Go to a car lot. Compare the 2018 models with the 2017 models.

Monk is the 2018 model, slick and shining and ready to roll. He’s 19. Kidd-Gilchrist has some miles on him. This season will be his sixth with the Hornets. Yet he’s only 23. Kidd-Gilchrist has been 23 for, like, 11 years.

Offense will never look as easy for Kidd-Gilchrist as it does Monk, even though Kidd-Gilchrist works at it.

A Kemba Walker, Nic Batum and Monk (Monk is 6-3) lineup would be a quick, intriguing and dwarf-like combination that would be pummeled on defense.

That combination won’t work (unless every other combination fails). Yet I like Kidd-Gilchrist off the bench. He plays with such energy that he’ll infuse the reserves with it.

Clifford likes Kidd-Gilchrist as a starter for the same reason. Kidd-Gilchrist might score 10 points on short jump shots and forays to the basket. But he will give what he has to prevent his opponent from doing it.

Last season Kidd-Gilchrist was coming off injuries, and seemed like a lesser version of himself. If he stays healthy, it will be interesting to see how far he and his team can go.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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