In his short time with the Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has done and said all the right things. He's a hard worker, is dedicated to his craft and continues to play with a high energy level, giving Charlotte its best chance at winning on a nightly basis.
While his work ethic and all-around game remained steady throughout his rookie year, Kidd-Gilchrist's shot remains flawed and there's reasonable concern that it won't improve, something that could prevent the former No. 2 overall pick from living up to his high draft selection.
“It’s a three-year project for that (shot) to get ironed out and do what he wants with it,” former head coach Mike Dunlap told CSNPhilly.com back in March. “Right now he’s taking the 18-footer with great confidence. I like where he’s headed.”
Where Kidd-Gilchrist was headed, though, was back to the drawing board, alongside notable shooting coach Mark Price.
Working with Price
According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, MKG suggested to his agent that they look into hiring a shooting coach following Dunlap's statement last season. New head coach Steve Clifford appeased Kidd-Gilchrist's request, bringing in a shooting coach that helped Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo develop some semblance of a shot.
While Price has worked with shooters in need of a jumper, his description of MKG's development was downright pessimistic.
"When I'm working with someone's shot, there is minor surgery which includes a few tweaks and there is major reconstructive surgery - this is reconstructive," Price told the Associated Press, via NBA.com.
That "major reconstructive surgery" started in summer league, where Kidd-Gilchrist showed some confidence while firing away from long range.
Back with his team during preseason, though, Kidd-Gilchrist looked much more like the player we saw last year than the player he was thought to be developing into.
He was tentative with his shot selection, even when open from distance or mid-range.
"I felt good all practice leading up to the game. (Then) he hesitated a little in the first game," Price said. "We want him to take open shots - what I call 'in-rhythm shots.'"
Is it time to worry now?
Despite working with the shooting coach throughout the summer, Kidd-Gilchrist still misses on some of Price's basics.
“I think there's a lot of things going on," Price told CBS.com's Zach Harper during Las Vegas Summer League when discussing MKG's shooting woes.
"I think what most everybody is looking at right now is where his elbow is, the hitch in his shot, things like that, but there's a lot of balance, footwork, getting your body in position squared up to shoot the basketball that's going on, as well. I typically start there first. I start with the feet and move up. Most guys think of shooting from the waist up but a lot of things happen starting with your feet.”
As you can see in the picture above, in his appearance against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 17, even though he's wide open in the corner, Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't have any of the necessary components of the proper shooting technique. His right foot is in front of the left, his shoulders aren't squared and he's off-balance.
With Al Jefferson patrolling the middle, his driving abilities will only get the offense so far. With teams sinking down to cover Charlotte's low-post threat, MKG has to continue working in order to fine-tune his game.
Still room to grow
Old habits die hard, and it's easy to see MKG must acclimate better to the NBA game.
Kidd-Gilchrist recently turned 20 years old, though, cementing the fact that he and his game have plenty of time to grow. Three months or less isn't enough time to completely revamp his game, and it's foolish to expect so. MKG will continue working with Price and he'll keep giving it his all on the court.
The only thing Bobcats fans can ask is that he pay attention, follow direction and retool the hitch in his jumper that's holding him back. If there's no evidence that it's starting to click with Kidd-Gilchrist after a full season of work, it might be time to start worrying about Charlotte's former top draft selection.