Let’s be honest. Kentucky has a lot of weapons. John Calipari’s offense makes that a necessity. He recruits so that he has four players on the floor who can attack off the dribble, and he recruits at a high enough level that he can force mis-matches with his elite players. Terrence Jones, when he’s on, can be a point-forward matchup nightmare. Anthony Davis doesn’t have a bucket overflowing with post moves, but the ones he has are pretty much unstoppable. And when other players break down the defense, Davis dunks. A lot. Doron Lamb shoots 47% from beyond the arc. Marquis Teague plays more minutes than all of them and runs the show.
But it’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who gives Coach Calipari the most options. At 6-7 and 230 pounds, he’s just a load for anyone with his skillset.
I looked at film from the Wildcats Sweet-16 and Elite-8 games to get an idea of how they use him. And this only really covers the way they get him shots. It ignores all the other facets of his game which make him such a special player. Watch this guy for 40 minutes straight and it’s hard not to be a fan.
This first play starts with the ball up top (blue arrow) and Kentucky rubbing Kidd-Gilchrist (circled) off Terrence Jones down low in order to free him on the opposite block.
From there it’s a simple entry for Kyle Wiltjer (arrow) to Kidd-Gilchrist (circled). And getting Gilchrist the ball that deep is every bit as effective as getting Jones or Davis the ball in the same spot. MKG has a very effective post game.
After he gets the ball, here’s the video:
The next play is Marquis Teague (arrow) pushing the ball to MKG (circled) on the wing. Note where Darius Miller (#1) and Terrence Jones (top of the key) are, and how far they push left in the next frame.
Now Anthony Davis completes clearing space for Kidd-Gilchrist (circled) by setting a screen for him (arrow). Everyone else gets out of his way. After the screen it’s essentially a one-on-one with 6-11 Cody Zeller, which is not going to end well for Indiana.
Here, the Hoosiers are in a 2-3 zone. Anthony Davis (arrow) has the ball at the top of the key, and Kidd-Gilchrist (circled) is on the low block. Here he can slide to the corner, or stay in the post due to his versatility.
The video, including him ripping the ball away from Davis:
Now on defense, Indiana’s Christian Watford (arrow) drives and turns the ball over, which ends up in the hands of Kidd-Gilchrist (circled).
With his point guard (arrow) running in front of him, it would seem logical to push the ball forward and then try to beat his man down the court to get the ball back. But wth MKG (circled), that’s not necessary.
Now Kidd-Gilchrist begins a play in the right corner (circled). Teague (#25) has the ball and Terrence Jones (arrow) appears to be running to the low block.
Anthony Davis (arrow) pops and receives the ball, while Terrence Jones veers and sets a back-screen for Kidd-Gilchrist (circled). With Davis’s length advantage over Quincy Acy it’s easy for him to dump down over the top for the bucket.
In our final play Baylor has set up in a 3-2 zone. Kentucky works the ball to Kidd-Gilchrist (circled) and creates the space needed for him to drive. He does so, and lobs to Davis, but the play is busted and has to be re-set.
With the ball back out to Teague (arrow) Kentucky is able to utilize Kidd-Gilchrist as the man in the middle of the zone. His job here is to catch and shoot, catch and bounce to Davis, or catch and kick to the perimeter. He elects option No. 1.