Will Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ever become the complete player that Charlotte drafted him No. 2 overall to be?
He can defend, we know that. And he has the athleticism to score near the hoop. He just hasn't been able to effectively make defenders respect his shot, so the rest of his game hurts because of it. If defenders don't respect his spot-up game, they can sit back and close off his lanes to pass and score.
It's a respect issue, and defenders just aren't respecting him. They don't have any reason to either. For some, it's even a joke as the ugliest shot in basketball.
What can be done?
He needs to re-work his entire shooting stroke, which won't be easy. When a guy has played the game for a long time, starting fresh means that all the repetitions beforehand are gone. That means that, even though he's 20, he'd be making himself worse in the short-term while raising the ceiling on his shooting in the long term.
That's a hard wager to accept since, well, he's going to be expected to perform now. He doesn't have a few years to sit back and let that shot work itself out. So, he will make incremental changes while increasing his shooting repetitions.
Last summer, assistant coach Mark Price was hired and began working on the herky-jerky motion that had led Kidd-Gilchrist to make just 27.2 percent of his jump shots as a rookie.
His percentage on those went up in a minor way, but his free-throw percentage dropped.
“I think there's a lot of things going on," Price said last summer. "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.”
What the numbers say
He was 61.4 percent from the free-throw line last season. That's not a ton better than the odds of flipping a coin on whether he makes it or not.
A story on CBSSports.com had some interesting documentation of it. Gilchrist has only taken 18 3-pointers in two seasons, making three. The CBSSports.com story notates that only 17 players with less than 800 rebounds and more than 3,500 minutes played have taken less 3-pointers than Kidd-Gilchrist over the same stretch in NBA history.
It also shows that he made just 29.7 of his spot-up chances last season. The story also said that spot-up chances accounting for 25 percent of his possessions.
So, in short, he needs to get better at it. We'll get a chance soon to see how much his offseason work this year will pay off.
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