When Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan looks at first-round draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he is reminded of Scottie Pippen, Jordans NBA championship-winning teammate on the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan isnt suggesting Kidd-Gilchrist is another Pippen, but he likes what hes seen from the one-year star on Kentuckys national championship team.
The Bobcats used the second pick to draft Kidd-Gilchrist, a small forward, and added Vanderbilt guard Jeffery Taylor in the second round. Both players are in Las Vegas with the Bobcats summer league team which begins play Friday night.
Jordan dismissed questions about Kidd-Gilchrists ability to be a consistent perimeter scorer and endorsed both draft choices.
I think (Kidd-Gilchrist is) going to be fine, Jordan said, speaking before the Hooptee Celebrity Golf Classic at the Golf Club at Ballantyne Thursday. I think the kid has the potential to be, as I call him, a connector. He can connect a lot of dots, a Scottie Pippen-like player.
Everybodys complaining about his shooting. He never illustrated to me that hes afraid to shoot the basketball. He can still shoot the ball. He believes he can make shots. I think the kid is going to be OK.
Jeffrey I like. Hes steady, consistent, tough. Hes going to be a good pro. He knows how to play. Hes going to be all right.
This is a critical period for Jordan and the Bobcats as they attempt to dig out of a lost season. The team recently hired Mike Dunlap to replace Paul Silas as coach and Jordan said the team remains active in the free-agent and trade markets in an attempt to upgrade the roster.
The Bobcats have been linked to a variety of potential personnel moves, including recent reports the team may be working to land point guard Ramon Sessions, who finished last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood.
Without offering specifics, Jordan said the team is being aggressive.
Weve got a lot of things on the table, he said. One thing about the staff is theyve been working diligently to try and improve our franchise. There isnt a deal out there that were not in conversations about. I leave it at that. Were still in the mix with some of these things and were going to do everything we can to try and keep getting better.
Jordan is focused on the future rather than the past.
Obviously, Im a competitor. I never want to be in the record book for being a failure, he said. At the end of the day, Ive also got to understand the shortened season, youve got a lot of injuries, got a lot of young kids that got thrust into a starting scenario. That was a repercussion of those facts.
As much as people tried to criticize it, it was obviously a down period for the franchise. We feel like we still got some good things to build with. Our young kids got a little experience of what it feels like to be in the NBA. On top of that we have some good young kids coming in.
Were on the road to the right way, to being a good team. Last year was one of those years where everything happened against us. I take full credit for that. Unfortunately, these things happen. But I see an upside for this franchise, without a doubt.
With just one playoff appearance in franchise history, Jordan hopes for a quick return to the NBA postseason.
It depends on the growth of our young kids, he said. We just got Mike (Dunlap), who I think is going to be a good developmental coach. Hes going to work with these kids and make sure they continue to progress the way we want them to. Were trying to build a very strong culture within this franchise.
I think we have the right personnel to do so. It could be a matter of time, how fast these guys develop.