They spent the summer together -- at the practice facility in Charlotte, the lab in Suwanee, summer league in Las Vegas. They started with the feet, pointing them at the basket, in order to square the body. At first, Kidd‑Gilchrist wasn’t allowed to shoot. He just jumped in place. Then he was allowed to shoot, but without his left hand, which forced him to straighten his right wrist and right elbow. An entire month was devoted to form shooting from 10 feet and in. Slowly they inched back. The release rose. The hitches vanished. Sometimes they only worked 30 minutes a day, and sometimes three hours. “I wanted him to leave the gym with confidence,” Price says. Kidd-Gilchrist was banned from playing pickup, or shooting on his own, for fear that old habits would resurface. Price kept him close. He invited him over for family dinners. Price’s youngest son, Josh, did the rebounding.
When Jefferson returned to Charlotte last August, he watched Kidd-Gilchrist take aim. “Damn,” Jefferson gushed, “that looks good.” Kidd-Gilchrist could not remember the last time someone said something genuinely nice about his J. “Really?” he asked. “I mean, for real? It looks good?” Price won’t go quite that far. “It looks… normal,” he says, the implication being that normal in this case is remarkable. When Kidd‑Gilchrist’s form was first broadcast in training camp, via the Hornets’ Instagram account, he called his mom. “Did you see it?” he hollered. “You’ve got to see it.”
Through Sunday, Kidd‑Gilchrist was averaging 9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds for a team seven games under .500 but charging up the East standings. He is a long way from sniper status, yet he has shot 67.4% from the line and 52.0% from 10 to 16 feet, and defenders don’t abandon him anymore. “I still play him as a driver,”Lakers forward Wesley Johnson says, “but you have to respect his shot now.”
Price can teach the mechanics. What’s harder to instill is the mentality. When Kidd‑Gilchrist misfires, he is prone to panic. “What am I doing wrong?” he asks. “You’re fine,” Price reassures him. “Keep doing what you’re doing.” When he turns down open looks, teammates remind him, “You can shoot now.” Kidd-Gilchrist admittedly forgets. “Oh, that’s right,” he responds. “I can shoot now.”