Former Georgia Tech and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Mark Price is joining the Charlotte Bobcats’ coaching staff to improve the team’s shooting.
But coach Steve Clifford says that’s not all Price can offer.
“Jeff (Van Gundy) used to say people forget Mark was Steve Nash before Steve Nash,” Clifford said of Price’s varied skills as a player. “He’s a knowledgeable basketball coach whose specialty the last few years is shooting. But I think he’s a coach who can help in a lot of ways.”
The Bobcats’ 42.2 percent shooting from the field last season was last among the 30 NBA teams. They were 18th in free-throw percentage (75 percent) and 27th in 3-point percentage (33.4 percent). They were 27th in points scored (93.3 per game).
Price was one of the best-shooting guards in NBA history, finishing a 12-season career at 47 percent from the field, 90 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from 3-point range.
Clifford, hired two weeks ago to replace Mike Dunlap, is finishing up his staff. Former Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing has been named associate head coach. Stephen Silas has been retained from the previous staff. And Bob Beyer, who was once Clifford’s boss at Siena College, is coming over from the Golden State Warriors as an assistant.
Clifford said that while each of his assistants has different skills, he won’t specialize what each does: Ewing will work with big men, but not exclusively. Price will help with the shooting, but also have input on plenty else, including pick-and-roll offense, where he excelled.
Price has worked with several NBA teams, either as a coach or a consultant, to address various players’ shooting problems. He’s been credited with helping Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who entered the league out of Kentucky with virtually no jump shot. Rondo is now one of the NBA’s top point guards.
Price’s biggest project could be second-year small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, whom the Bobcats drafted second overall a year ago. Kidd-Gilchrist arrived in Charlotte with both a hitch and a sidespin to his jump shot. He has no 3-point range to speak of (2-of-9 as a rookie).
Dunlap said it would be a three-year process to get Kidd-Gilchrist’s shot up to NBA standards. Kidd-Gilchrist suggested to the Bobcats, through his agent, that they look into hiring a shooting coach this season.
But Price might be just as valuable to point guard Kemba Walker. Much of the Bobcats’ offense last season revolved around pick-and-rolls for Walker, who led the team in scoring at 17.7 points per game.
Walker is the Bobcats’ best current player, and Price was as good as anyone of his generation at decision-making off pick-and-roll situations.