2014-15 Season in Review | Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

By Sam Perley and Matt Rochinski, hornets.com

2014-15 Season in Review | Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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Tipping Off
Perhaps no player on the Hornets roster this season was more valuable or improved as much as former second-overall pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who made significant strides in his third season in Charlotte. Kidd-Gilchrist entered the 2014-15 season with high expectations as the Hornets lockdown defender with an improved offensive arsenal thanks to intense work with former Assistant Coach Mark Price in the offseason.

Confidence Building
Kidd-Gilchrist posted solid stats in his first two seasons in Charlotte but was plagued by deteriorating shooting mechanics that admittedly affected his confidence on offense. During the 2014 offseason, Kidd-Gilchrist and Price spent the summer breaking down and fine tuning his jump shot, a process which was chronicled in a feature story by Lee Jenkins in the Feb. 2 edition of Sports Illustrated. Although incredibly challenging and frustrating at times for a player to completely change his shot at the NBA level, Kidd-Gilchrist returned to Charlotte with a noticeably improved shooting technique that quickly carried over into live game action on the basketball court.
In 2013-14, MKG’s lack of confidence in his shot was evident by his shot selection, with just 4.7 percent of his shots coming on pull-up jumpers and 24.1 percent coming on catch-and-shoot j’s. He increased his percentage of pull-ups to 19.0 percent in 2014-15, and while his catch-and-shoot percentage fell to 20.1 percent, he increased his shooting percentage from 26.5 percent to 36.5 percent on those shots this past season as he continued to help open up the Hornets offense with opponents needing to treat Kidd-Gilchrist has more of a perimeter threat than in previous seasons.

Early Setback
Unfortunately, Kidd-Gilchrist’s season started slow as he missed 14 of Charlotte’s first 20 games because of rib and foot injuries. During this stretch, the Hornets were just 3-11 without Kidd-Gilchrist on the court, who returned on Dec. 10 against Boston.

Mr. Double-Double
Once he overcame the nagging injuries, Kidd-Gilchrist took off especially in the new calendar year for the Hornets. Kidd-Gilchrist’s best play came in January when he averaged 11.4 points and 9.4 rebounds leading the way for a Hornets team that went 10-4 during the month. Kidd-Gilchrist scored in double figures in 10 of 14 January games and also recorded five double-doubles, which was just one shy of matching his career best for an entire season.

Back on the Shelf
Injuries continued to catch up with Kidd-Gilchrist over the course of the season as he missed a pair of games right before the All-Star Break with a hamstring strain and sat out Charlotte’s final 11 games because of a sprained left ankle he suffered against Washington on Mar. 27. Despite a career-low 55 games, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged personal bests in points (10.9) and rebounds (7.6) and was arguably as integral to the success of the Hornets as any player on the roster, which was evidenced by Charlotte’s 6-21 record without him on the court.

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Often deployed on the opposing team’s best scorer, Kidd-Gilchrist continued to play remarkably well on the defensive side this season and clearly established himself as one of the best wing defenders in the NBA. Among his accolades on the defensive side of the ball this past season were the following:

  • Ranked first among wings in defensive rebounding percentage (.214)
  • Ranked third among wings in defensive rebounds (5.6)
  • Ranked 10th in defensive rating (96.5) among players who played at least 40 games
  • Ranked 6th among wings and 11th in the NBA in Defensive Adjusted Plus Minus
  • Ranked in the 67th percentile in man-to-man opponents points per possession, despite normally guarding the other team’s best player, and ranked in the 87th percentile with four seconds or less remaining on the shot clock, according to Synergy Sports
  • Ranked in the 75th percentile in Guarded Catch-and-Shoot Situations, holding opponents to just 30.5 percent shooting, according to Synergy Sports

    “He’s a really good defender. He does so many small things that a lot of guys can’t do. He’s definitely our leader on that side of the ball,” said Kemba Walker. “He’s always been a great defensive player and as long as he continues to do that and make shots, the sky is the limit for him."

    2015-16 Outlook
    MKG made tremendous strides in 2014-15 as he raised his all-around game, cementing himself as one of the league’s best defenders and emerging as the offensive threat many were uncertain he could become.
    “The way he does things on the defensive end, the way he leads by example and now he’s able to hit open shots and perform for us on the offensive end, it shows the type of player he's going to be,” said Al Jefferson. “He’s a guy that’s going to be a great all-around player.”
    If Kidd-Gilchrist can stay healthy in 2015-16, expect him to be a key piece that helps get the Hornets back to the playoffs and ready to challenge to win a playoff series or more.
    “MKG had a really good year,” said Hornets General Manager Rich Cho. “He was probably our most improved player… he was a big part of our team.”

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