You might describe Charlotte Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this season as the NBA’s highest-paid, quality-control scout.
Kidd-Gilchrist is out for the season following shoulder surgery last month to repair a torn labrum. He’s now out of his sling and traveling with the team, something he insisted on doing.
Between his physical rehabilitation sessions, the Hornets have put him to work filling out game reports on what the team does well and what needs improvement.
Kidd-Gilchrist loves it.
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“I’m actually on the coaching staff now, so that helps,” Kidd-Gilchrist said during the team’s recent three-game road trip. “I have homework for every game on what I see out on the floor and how can we get better at the defensive end. It’s fun learning the game from the other side.”
This is far more than busy work. Assistant coach Stephen Silas suggested the idea, constructing a 25-question form for Kidd-Gilchrist to fill out after each game. Coach Steve Clifford says there’s plenty to be gleaned from Kidd-Gilchrist’s observations.
“To be really good in this league, you’ve got to be a student of the game. So it’s working out well,” Clifford said.
“He’s really locked into personnel. It’s literally evaluating everything from our team (defensive) coverages to what was good, what was bad to why we won or why we lost.
“Stephen goes over it with him and then he sends it on to me. He’s doing a really good job with it – not haphazardly doing it.”
This comes as no surprise. Kidd-Gilchrist has always been a worker, the guy who as a Kentucky freshman convinced teammates to rise with the sun for early morning weight-lifting and pickup games. The concept was termed the “Breakfast Club” in Lexington the season Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis led the Wildcats to the 2012 national championship.
This is the first significant injury Kidd-Gilchrist has suffered. The chance to self-scout has helped make him feel less detached during this recovery process.
“Things where, if I were on the court, I would (mention) the effort baskets we aren’t getting or the fast breaks we’re not getting,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of the feedback he offers. “Trying to (maintain) that pace on the floor. We’re not always getting that right now, but I hope we’ll find it somewhere.
“I watch film just like the coaches do. I’m not in the (coaches) meetings, but it’s fun. I’m going to come back, so it’s not like I’m retiring or anything.”
It took a month for Kidd-Gilchrist to be cleared to stop wearing a sling. He’s doing daily rehab sessions now, including work with light weights to restore strength and flexibility to his right shoulder.
Kidd-Gilchrist spent the summer working on extending his shooting range. He took a 3-point attempt in the exhibition in Orlando, Fla., when he was injured. Hours after surgery to repair his labrum, Kidd-Gilchrist was at the airport to send off his teammates on the preseason trip to China.
Teammates often mention what a good attitude Kidd-Gilchrist has maintained, not moping over missing the season with the injury.
“Each day I wake up and say, ‘That’s another day gone’ “ until he plays again, Kidd-Gilchrist said.
“It’s been hard, but I’ve got to take it for what it is right now. Be positive about everything I’m going through. I won’t hoop until April. It’s hard, it’s killing me, but I’m fine.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell