Ex-NBA sniper Mark Price working to help young player improve his shooting


mark-price-cavsMark Price was one of the NBA’s best shooters during his 13-year career. The 6 foot guard averaged 15.2 ppg and 6.7 apg in his NBA career, shooting 47 percent from the field, 40 from 3-point line and 90 percent from free throw line (led the NBA 3 times).

Now, a former 4-time NBA All-Star is an assistant coach with Charlotte Bobcats. Due to Price’s credibility and experience, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan hired him to correct Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot.

“There are a lot of different areas that need some work,” Price said.

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.

But 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.”

Price 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. Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t.

“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.

“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,”‘ Price said.

But Kidd-Gilchrist said he’s willing to learn.

“I want to get better at this game,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of his regular pre- and post-practice tutoring sessions with Price. “I want to be an All-Star at some point.”

Kidd-Gilchrist said he “disappointed” with his rookie season with the Bobcats. While he averaged a respectable 9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, he failed to reach his goal of being named NBA Rookie of the Year.

He wasn’t even selected to the All-Rookie first team, another major letdown and unreached goal.

“I was mad at myself,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I set goals and I didn’t reach any of the goals that I set. All my life I did that and last year I didn’t reach one goal.”

Time will show whether Price is able to improve the young player’s shot that much so he would be able to reach his next goal.

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