Mark Price is widely regarded as one of the best shooting coaches on the planet. And for good reason. The man shot 40 percent from 3 for his entire career, including a four-year stretch in which he never shot worse than 38.7 percent from the arc. He has opened his own training academy with an emphasis on shooting and has worked as a consultant or coach with a dozen teams in the league.
Price has been on the staff only a couple weeks, and Summer League at UNLV is no actual gauge on what MKG will look like when his form leaves the body shop after many months, but this is the first benchmark on the time together following hours of workouts. This is also encouraging.
“I'm trying to shoot it now,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “That's a big step.”
Because he was always trying to not shoot it before.
“Yeah,” he said. “I think it's a big step for me to shoot the 3. My mid-range, too. I'll shoot the mid-range a lot, too.”
“Everybody can become a better shooter,” Price said. “He's definitely got some flaws in his technique right now. We just start working on certain things and try to keep moving in the right direction. Most people kind of look at his elbow and the things that go on with that.
“It's a lot more than just the elbow and things like that. It's the footwork, balance, a lot of different things. We're starting with the feet and trying to get him more squared-up to the basket. Actually, we've made some progress in practice, but then it becomes a transferring-it-to-the game kind of thing. He's young, too. It's going to take some time.”
And the mental aspect. It's that, too.
“I think confidence,” Price said. “Everybody knows that's what he needs to work on. He knows that. Everybody else knows that. I think just getting it to a confidence level to help him. Believe it or not, I have seen some improvement there already. I think he believes in what we're trying to do. Everybody would like it to happen quicker, but stuff like that doesn't happen overnight.”
Can you really fix a shot that broken? That's the question. Many times, shooting coaches won't actually try to desconstruct shooting motions, preferring to keep players comfortable. It's why you see guys like Shawn Marion still shooting his funky shot, because there's a point where fixing bad form is more productive than a total rebuild.
But the hitch in MKG's is too severe and so, to a large extent, they're starting over. It's bizarre because, to a degree, MKG can get in a rhythm and hit some. I've watched him shoot it enough over two years to know that. But the game environment changes everything (see: Dwight Howard's free throws) and so they'll try to reconstruct the thing.
Whether it will work will have a lot to do with how high Kidd-Gilchrist's season is.