Charlotte Bobcats guard-forward Jeff Taylor had a weight problem. Just not the kind most of us experience.
After traveling around the country last spring for predraft workouts, he wasn’t himself. He had dropped about 15 pounds from his playing weight at Vanderbilt and he never gained it back during his rookie season.
“Last year I felt weak and never had a chance to build back up,” Taylor said at a practice Saturday on UNLV’s campus. “During the season it’s hard to start gaining weight.”
Last season the 6-foot-7 Taylor was down to 208 pounds. Now he’s back up to 222, and he’s performing better. In the Bobcats’ opening game of the Las Vegas summer league Friday, Taylor scored 24 points off 9-of-17 shooting, including a spectacular second-half dunk against the San Antonio Spurs.
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Taylor has been in the Bobcats’ practice facility as much as any player during this offseason, both for weight training and to improve his midrange pull-up jump shots.
“I wanted to be in one place a lot this summer and I wanted to work with Matt (Friia), our strength coach,” Taylor said. “So every morning I’ve been lifting and then going up on the court to do individual stuff with (assistant) coach (Stephen) Silas.
“It’s great to see it paying off.”
That comes as no surprise to coach Steve Clifford.
“He didn’t do anything in that game he’s not capable of doing every night,” Clifford said. “I think he has the size, the defensive ability and enough offense to be an every-night rotation player.”
Dare to try: There were times during his rookie season when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was so unhappy with his jump shot he would pass up open looks. Friday he took six jumpers, making two of four from 2-point range and missing two 3s.
Clifford said that is what summer league is about for the players under contract.
“There’s a coaching axiom: ‘They only have a chance to get good at the things you allow them to do,’ ” Clifford said. “Summer league is certainly the chance to let him do that.”
Kidd-Gilchrist, a small forward, attempted just nine 3-pointers last season, making two. He has been working with assistant coach Mark Price on the various mechanical flaws in his shot.
“I feel a lot more confident in myself and in my jump shot,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “(Price) has been a huge help. Every day and every night we’re in the gym working on reps. I think it’s really getting there.”