14.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 1 steal, .6 blocks, 45% FG, 72% FT, 35% 3P
From a production standpoint, Jeff Taylor isn't having the breakout season many expected from him in this, his junior year. His scoring rate has fallen slightly, his field goal percentage is down nearly 5%, he's rebounding worse (offensively) and he's getting to the free throw line much less frequently than he has in the past.
From an NBA standpoint, though, Taylor's prospects have never looked rosier.
Taylor's rising draft stock is attributable to one development in particular: the discovery of a jump shot. He was just 1-for-11 from beyond the arc as a sophomore, but Taylor has knocked down a solid 35% of the 113 3-pointers he's taken as a junior, demonstrating a serious learning curve and leaving plenty of room for optimism when analyzing his excellent shooting mechanics.
Taylor has always been one of the most athletic players in college basketball. He's spectacular in transition, a product of his excellent speed in the open floor and his highlight reel-caliber explosiveness. He has great size at 6-7 and an outstanding frame, showing the strength and toughness to finish through contact in difficult situations.
He still lacks polish offensivelyhis touch is just average and his overall scoring instincts leave something to be desired, particularly as a shot-creatorbut Taylor has redeeming characteristics in other areas, which is enough to lead us to believe that he has what it takes to hold his own on the offensive end in the NBA.
Taylor has a rare blend of prototypical physical tools, excellent toughness and a very good feel for the game. He shows all the characteristics the NBA looks for in a complimentary wing player (a la Raja Bell or Thabo Sefolosha), but he is a far more explosive .
Converting on 35 of the 98 jump shots he's taken this season (36%) with his feet set, Taylor can space the floor in a semi-credible manner, and looks comfortable playing a role. He's a very good passer and has potential as a post-up threat (something Vanderbilt surprisingly does not take advantage of very often). He also scores within the flow of his team's offense--be it in transition or in half-court sets, usually above the rim.
Where Taylor gets in trouble when he's asked to do more than that, thoughsomething that happens fairly often in Vanderbilt's stagnant offense. None of the other players on his team can create their own shot effectively, which puts a lot of pressure on Taylor (Vandy's best athlete) to make things happen on a regular basis, which is clearly not his game.
Taylor can beat his man off the dribble (he has an excellent first step), but he is not a very dynamic ball-handler at this point in time--he lacks the ability to change speeds or direction with the ball. He elevates nicely on shots in the mid-range but converts just 33% of his off-the-dribble attempts. Then again, that's a shot he'll rarely be asked to take at the next level.
Playing alongside better guards who can regularly create good looks for him, it's not a stretch to say that Taylor will become a more efficient offensive player in the NBA.
With that said, defense is clearly the most interesting aspect of Taylor's professional profile.
He is a rare case defensively in that he has ideal physical attributes for an NBA swingman (excellent size, mature frame, solid length, outstanding athleticism) as well as excellent fundamentals both on and off the ball and a willingness to stop his man on every possession.
He slides his feet extremely well on the perimeter, gets low in his stance and shows the toughness to stick his nose in and make a gritty play. He denies slashing angles with his sheer strength, uses his wingspan effectively to contest shots and switches onto multiple positions if called uponTaylor is asked to guard everything from point guards to power forwards on a given night for Vanderbilt.
Despite all this, there is surprisingly little buzz about Taylor's draft prospects at the moment. This is likely a product of his underwhelming scoring average (14.7 points per game), the general undervaluation of defensive stoppers, and the fact that his team was just 9-7 in the SEC.
Taylor turns 22 this May. It seems likely he will at least explore the option of entering the NBA next season, which would give him the ability to attend private workouts and collect precise feedback about his professional outlook. It will be interesting to see what scouts have to say.
Even though Taylor might not have the same offensive upside as some of the other wings in this draft, it's tough to see many prospects projecting better as role players. Will NBA teams agree with that assessment? We'll find out soon enough.
Josh Selby, 6-2, Shooting Guard, Freshman, Kansas
8.7 points, 2.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 38% FG, 37% 3P, 76% FT
After serving a nine game NCAA suspension to start the year, Josh Selby has had an up-and-down freshman season, with things being much more down of late. Selby hasn't surpassed seven points scored in any of his last nine games played, including two games without a single point. Playing through a stress fracture in his right foot that caused him to miss three games in February certainly isn't helping matters, but Selby's stock is still sitting at an all-time low heading into the NCAA Tournament.
Billed as an incredibly creative and explosive scorer with outstanding athletic tools coming into college, Selby has shown flashes of that potential, putting it all together for a handful of games this season, but has struggled heavily with inconsistency and turnovers.
In the half-court setting, Selby is a very dangerous scorer when he catches the ball on the move, having an outstanding first step to go along with strong change of direction ability and body control in the lane, making him very dynamic within the flow of the offense. The problem for Selby is this had made up just a small part of his game this season, as he's attacked the basket very infrequently, getting to the line and getting shots in the lane at a poor rate. He averages just 1.7 free throws compared to 7.9 field goal attempts per game, and according to Synergy Sports Technology, in the half-court setting he's attempted 95 jumpers compared to 30 shots around the basket.
Overall, he's converting just 39% of his 2-point attempts, which would be the lowest percentage of any player drafted in the last ten years, if he indeed decided to enter. Combine that with his paltry 37 free throw attempts in 22 games, and it's no surprise why Selby ranks as the least efficient scorer amongst players in our top-100 prospects ranking.
Selby's ability to create in isolation settings isn't something that has fully translated to the college level in the halfcourt, as he seems to have had some trouble adapting to the tougher defense, struggling with turnovers and not getting past his man as frequently as he was used to in high school. He's prone to committing offensive fouls by pushing off on spin moves and commonly loses control of the ball in not-so-difficult situations, something that's been exacerbated late in the season with his foot problems. His prolonged absence to start the year combined with the very short leash Bill Self has him on surely isn't helping matters, but it's clear that he hasn't been able to translate his scoring prowess at the high school level the way many expected him to.
As a shooter, Selby's done a solid job contributing for the Jayhawks, shooting a solid 36.9% on 3.8 three-point attempts per game, showing decent but occasionally sloppy mechanics and a great ability to put the ball in the basket. He's doing most of his work here spotting up, however, taking very few jumpers off the dribble and having less freedom to go out and create his own shot like he was known for the past.
Quite clearly a shooting guard and not even a combo guard at 6'2, Selby shows very little in terms of point guard abilities, almost always looking for his own shot except for rare spurts where he'll try and set up others off pick-and-rolls. His vision is actually solid when he's looking to use it, but shows very little in terms of instincts and accordingly hasn't been put in a position to run Kansas' offense for any noticeable stretches to help improve in this area.
Defensively, Selby is very aggressive both on and off the ball, showing a strong stance, active hands, and solid fundamentals. He sticks with his man diligently off the ball, keeping his eyes on his ball and the man at all times, while doing a solid job in the passing lanes in spite of his underwhelming length. On the ball, he's prone to being beat by quick first steps due to how far he plays up on his man, but shows good speed when in stride and does a good job getting his hands up to contest shots in the lane. He doesn't see many perimeter shots against him in isolation due to how aggressively he blankets his man.
Looking forward, Selby's play has fallen off heavily at the most critical time of the season, precisely when the greatest amount of NBA decision makers have been out to evaluate him. Missing the preseason, and injury problems definitely haven't helped matters, but many of his issues appear to be more deeply-ingrained, as he's had trouble consistently adjusting to this level of play. Going to a program (such as Tennessee, where he originally committed) that could have allowed him greater freedom to handle the ball and play the type of basketball he's accustomed surely would have helped ease the transition, as his situation at Kansas clearly isn't ideal.
A strong tournament performance could certainly help Selby's stock, but given the various issues he's had this season, he'll probably be best served coming back to school next year, where he should have a better chance to show off his various tools and solidify himself as a high draft pick.
Chandler Parsons, 6'9, Small Forward, Senior, Florida
11.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 49% FG, 56% FT, 38% 3P
Chandler Parsons has developed into an intriguing all-around player, being named SEC player of the year while leading the Florida Gators to a 26-7 record and a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament. While Parsons scoring output has not taken the jump many hoped for, his all-around game has continued to show signs of progression.
Offensively, Parsons continues to increase his proficiency from long range, now converting 38% of his 3-point attempts, a career best. He still has a fairly long release, but he gets good elevation on his shot and does a solid job of making shots with his feet seta crucial part of his evaluation as a pro prospect.
Parsons increasing ability to make spot-up jump shots increases the effectiveness of his dribble drive game, as he does an excellent job of utilizing pump fakes to open up driving lanes, showing an ability to hit a pull up jump shot or go all the way to the rim when the opportunity presents itself. When in the lane, Parson's ball handling and passing ability really shines. An excellent ball handler and decision maker for a player his size, Parsons' 4.4 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranks tops amongst all small forwards in our database.
He also does an extremely good job moving without the ball, continuing to improve as a catch and shoot player, making strong cuts without the ball, and doing a very good job off the offensive glass. A more fluid than explosive athlete, Parsons does a good job of finishing at the rim, keeping the ball up high and going up quickly off of offensive rebounds, wasting little time to allow defenders to react.
While Parsons shows an ability to get into the lane off of spot-up opportunities and cuts, he has only an average first step, which may limit his effectiveness as a slasher at the NBA-level. He's done a better job of going to the right off of dribble drives, but still generally prefers to go to his left. Considering his overall skill level, this seems an area that could see improvement in the future.
Projected as a small forward at the next level, one area where Parsons could stand to improve is his post-game in order to use his length to his advantage against smaller defenders. According to Synergy Sports Technology, only 3.2% of Parsons half-court offense came on post-up opportunities, as he lacks the requisite strength or physicality needed to make his presence felt in these situations.
On the glass, Parsons has shown steady improvement, now standing at a very respectable 9.3 rebounds per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, which ranks amongst the top 10 small forwards in our database. He does a good job of using his length well and contributing on both sides of the ball in that aspect of the game.
Defensively, Parsons appears to have above average lateral quickness, which will be needed to defend the perimeter when transitioning to the next level. He appears to have added some upper body strength during his time at Florida, but he still could use some lower body strength to help defend against more physical post players. He uses his length well, but at times can lose his focus or get outhustled by more physical players, something he must continue to work on.
While not having the kind of scoring jump (in fact, decreasing his scoring output) some may have hoped for in order for Parsons to really stand out, Parsons all-around game and his ability to get offense without plays being run for him should get him some serious looks from NBA teams. The key for him will likely be proving his ability to make shots and defend NBA level wing players at the next level.
Jerai Grant, 6'8, Senior, Power Forward, Clemson
12.4 Points, 6.7 Rebounds, 1.5 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 2.4 Blocks, 57.4% FG, 71% FT
When we last checked in on Jerai Grant back in October, we reflected on the very basic role he played offensively in his first three seasons at Clemson. Feeding almost exclusively off hustle plays at that juncture, Grant has continued to do the dirty work for the Tigers down low this season, but has seen his role expand significantly in the wake of Trevor Booker's departure. Though the expansion of his role hasn't meant much to his NBA potential, it played a significant role in Clemson's surprise NCAA Tournament bid.
Seeing nearly twice as many possessions this season than he did last season, Grant carved out a niche for himself as Clemson's top interior scoring threat. Spending the spring and summer working on his post repertoire, Grant showed developing footwork and the ability to score with basic drop-step and up-and-under moves. Converting 47% of his 3.2 post-up shot attempts per-game according to Synergy Sports Technology, Grant showed the ability to have his way with small front lines on the college level, but struggled against more athletic front-courts.
Grant's increased usage also extended to the midrange, where he attempted less than one jumper per-contest, but flashed the ability to step away from the rim for the first time. Lacking a degree of fluidity in his release, Grant didn't spend too much time facing up and putting the ball on the floor despite his quickness, but knocked down an occasion catch-and-shoot jumper and made significant strides at the charity stripeboosting his percentages from 59% last season to 71%.
While Grant showed some degree of development in his skill level, his role at the next level won't include situations where he'll be creating offensive chances for himself, making his development as a post threat and jump shooter more of a bonus than a selling point. Ultimately, Grant will be asked to do many of the same things that we described as his strengths in our last report when he was playing next to Trevor Booker: catch and finish, rebound, set screens, and defend.
An explosive athlete, Grant is at his best when his teammates are creating shot for him at the basket. Finishing at a 62.4% rate around the rim, Grant is a hard-worker and does a nice job staying active down low. Showing very solid quickness, he does a nice job filling lanes in transition and flashing to the rim when he sees an opening.
A capable rebounder on both ends, Grant does a fantastic job pursuing the ball off the rim, has very good hands, and is capable of rebounding outside of his area. This season, Grant's rebounding numbers on the offensive end have slipped a bit. A lot of that has to do with his increased usage, as he isn't the type of DeJuan Blair-style rebounder that can hold position and regularly cleans up his own misses. He's at his best when he can crash the glass from the midrange and use his speed to his advantage.
Grant's mobility is a key part of his defensive presence as well. Possessing good lateral quickness and playing with very strong intensity, the Maryland native can hedge the pick and roll very effectively out on the perimeter, and deny penetration consistently from the midrange. He does a fine job in the post thanks to his length and leaping ability, but struggles to hold position against stronger players and is too susceptible to fakes at this point in his career. It will be important for him to continue to add the bulk necessary to defend the post in one-on-one situations and box out stronger forwards to augment his presence as a shot blocker and versatility on that end of the floor.
By no means is Grant a glamorous NBA prospect, but he has experience doing a number of things that NBA teams value, and has a strong pedigree coming from a family of professional basketball players. His lack of size and offensive polish are limiting factors, but if he can showcase his talents against his peers like he'll have the opportunity to at the Portsmouth Invitational, he could endear himself to NBA decision-makers with his work ethic.