ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Bobcats assistant coach Mark Price said fixing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's jump shot is akin to performing major reconstructive surgery: It's going to take some time.
"There are a lot of different areas that need some work," Price said.
Price was one of the NBA's best shooters during his 13-year career, which is why Bobcats owner Michael Jordan hired him to correct Kidd-Gilchrist's flawed mechanics.
Kidd-Gilchrist's shortcomings include not squaring his shoulders to the basket, turning his elbow in awkwardly when he shoots and often times releasing the ball on his descent rather than his ascent.
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It's still early in the process and the changes in the former Kentucky star's jump shot might not be recognizable in the pre-season.
Price said he's encouraged with the subtle progress Kidd-Gilchrist has shown as well as the second-year pro's eagerness to learn — which he said can be half of the battle when dealing with NBA players.
"He wants to get better," Price said Tuesday following Charlotte's first training camp practice at UNC-Asheville.
Price said he's amazed that nobody fixed Kidd-Gilchrist's jump shot at some point before he helped Kentucky win a national championship and became the second overall pick in last year's NBA Draft.
"Absolutely, that's the first thing that comes to your mind," Price said. "But I think he's been physically superior at every other level and he's gotten away with it somehow."
Now it's Price's job to fix it.
He started working with Kidd-Gilchrist this summer and in the short time he's had to spend with him — MKG's participation with USA Basketball and the NBA Summer League limited the time they could work together — his focus has been on trying to improve the second-year pro's footwork.
Price said good, consistent shooters keep their shoulders squared to the basket.
"He was almost pointed sideways to the basket when he shoots," Price said. "He's not all the way there yet, but we're slowly getting it moved around to where the shoulders are squared up. It's a process."
He's also been working on Kidd-Gilchrist's pre-shot preparation, making sure his hands are out and ready to receive the ball.
Price said he won't start working on tougher tasks — like his awkward bent-in shooting elbow — until next summer. He doesn't want to throw too much at him at once and risk ruining his confidence entering the season.
"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 said.
It has been an exercise in patience for both men.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who turned 20 last month, has spent his teenage years shooting the same jump shot in AAU and high school ball. But his ability to get to the basket and run the floor often made up for his peculiar form.
Now he's learning old habits are hard to break.
"I don't know if it was just hard on me. It was hard on Mark, too," Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Said Price: "He gets frustrated sometimes, but like I've told him: 'This is a process. It's not going to happen overnight. You're not going to be Chris Mullin next week. It's going to take some time.'"