The long NBA season is taking its toll on Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
"It's a true grind, man," said Kidd-Gilchrist, a native of Somerdale, Camden County. "A lot of traveling and stuff like that. But it's a true grind."
Kidd-Gilchrist, the second overall pick in last year's NBA draft, has played in 70 games this season. Over the last two seasons, he played 67 games combined as a freshman at Kentucky and at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J.
The 19-year-old is expected to play in Wednesday's game against the 76ers in Charlotte. He missed Monday's game in Milwaukee to attend a funeral, Bobcats coach Mike Dunlop told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
On Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, the 6-foot-7 forward had one of his better nights as a pro. Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting in a 100-92 loss to the Sixers. He also had nine rebounds.
That marked the fourth time he led Charlotte in scoring this season. In his best outing, he had 25 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in a loss to Phoenix on Dec. 19.
But as can be expected with a rookie, Kidd-Gilchrist has had some off nights. There were eight games when he scored just two points.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who missed two games after sustaining a concussion, is averaging 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists this season.
"Mike has done a great job sticking with it and [shows] his work ethic," said Bobcats assistant Dan Leibovitz, a Philadelphia native.
"It's such a long season, and you have to be a professional. You have to be mature. And for a 19-year-old, he's done an unbelievable job."
Kidd-Gilchrist is also making a difference off the court in the Carolinas.
He partnered with Papa John's Pizza to raise funds for A Child's Place, a program that aids and educates homeless children.
"I love Charlotte," said Kidd-Gilchrist, who has helped other charities in the region. "I like the city. I like our basketball team. I mean, I like everything about our basketball team."
For Kidd-Gilchrist, that makes what has been a grueling rookie season enjoyable.