Some NBA teams believe that average shooting can be taught. That with enough time and effort spent in the gym under the guidance of proper coaching, even the most broken jumpers can be somewhat repaired. The Charlotte Hornets surely had that in mind when they selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick of the 2012 draft.
A defensive monster, aggressive penetrator, and supreme locker room influence in his one, championship-winning season at Kentucky with Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist’s wholesale shooting struggles were no secret throughout the draft process – the Bobcats/Hornets knew the type of offensive player they were getting. Their expectation was that MKG would slowly improve enough as a shooter for his other awesome gifts to render that mere adequacy almost irrelevant. After his first two seasons, though, that just hasn’t come to fruition.
Kidd-Gilchrist might have been the least effective shooter of all perimeter players in basketball over the last two years: He attempted just 18 total three-pointers in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons, and couldn’t manage even 30 percent accuracy on two-pointers outside the paint in either season despite shooting just 88 shots from there in his sophomore campaign. Those are unplayable numbers in a modern NBA that places an absolute premium on spacing, and especially for a Hornets team that relies on Al Jefferson’s post exploits as an offensive fulcrum. It’s a testament to Steve Clifford’s coaching and Kidd-Gilchrist’s teammates that the Hornets fared only .7 points worse per 100 offensive possessions with such a non-shooter on the floor last season.
Kidd-Gilchrist, of course, made it his summer’s mission to correct his near-fatal shooting flaws. He even worked extensively with Hornets assistant Mark Price, one of the greatest shooters ever, on a complete mechanics overhaul. Every report coming from Charlotte this offseason was MKG’s diligent work and willingness to change made all the difference.
“Does it feel that different? Well, it’s going in a lot more,” Kidd-Gilchrist said with a big grin. “I believe in the process. I started in April and it feels great.”
“Process” is the buzzword in this topic. Kidd-Gilchrist used it three times during a 10-minute discussion. Assistant coach Mark Price used it a constantly during another interview at media day Monday…
“I always knew this was going to be a big summer for Mike and I give him a lot of credit. We started in May and really broke some things down. He listened, he applied it and the biggest part is he stuck with it.”
But we heard similar things leading up to the 2012 draft, and even more following a rookie season that further exposed Kidd-Gilchrist’s biggest deficiency. After the past two offseasons yielded no on-court results, why would this one be any different?
Well, MKG’s shot is still a long way from fixed entirely and the games have yet to begin. But in the video below, he looks more fluid and natural shooting the ball than we’ve ever seen him:
Nevermind the shots going in. Kidd-Gilchrist’s elbow is straight! He doesn’t hitch just before release! There’s flow here!
Maybe this was the summer that changed MKG’s game forever. It’s far too early to tell if that will prove the case, of course, but at least we finally have visual confirmation that Charlotte’s boasts of his drastic improvement aren’t empty words.
What do you think?
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