After an outstanding summer where he emerged as the leader of the USAs U-19 World Championship team, we noted that Taylor was returning to Lawrence to be a role-player, not the star he proved capable of emerging as in New Zealand. With most of the season in the rearview mirror, it is safe to say that the St. Anthonys product has (perhaps begrudgingly) accepted his role as a complementary player on a deep, experienced, and incredibly talented Jayhawk team. While his numbers certainly dont jump off the page, Taylor is a player who could very well factor into this summers draft according to the rumor mill, making his season worth taking a look at.
From a physical standpoint, Taylor brings a number of NBA caliber qualities to the table. Displaying a good first step, nice quickness in the open floor, and impressive lateral quickness defensively, Taylor has a nice athletic profile for a point guard. Couple that with his 63 frame and solid build, and he certainly looks the part of an NBA guard. While he surely displays a lot of promise in that regard, his limited role at Kansas and lack of pure playmaking ability raise some questions that the young guard will have to answer, as he does not project quite as well at the 2-guard position in the NBA.
Offensively, Taylor has some tools, but doesnt always get a chance to showcase them, and obviously still has a ways to go to become a complete player. From the perimeter, he proves capable of hitting catch and shoot jumpers with good consistency and has gotten a bit better at maintaining his mechanics with a hand in his face. Taylor struggles to hit shots off the dribble, preferring to use his momentum to get off his floater rather than taking the first look hes given.
Around the basket, Taylor has had his fair share of issues this season. Even with a limited number of touches, Taylor doesnt benefit from being able to pick and choose his spots. He seems a bit too willing to go into the teeth of the defense, struggling to take contact and subsequently not finishing at a great rate, which renders him as one of the more turnover prone players in our database
. When he can get out in the open floor and use his physical tools to make plays, he looks exponentially more comfortable than he does challenging bigger defenders at the basket. The development of his midrange game will be a big step towards compensating for those shortcomings.
When accounting for what Taylor has done offensively this season, its important to note the role he plays for arguably the top team in college basketball. With so much talent, touches are at a premium for the Jayhawks, and while Taylor would surely be able to dominate the ball elsewhere, he currently has to defer regularly to the likes of upperclassmen Cole Aldrich
and Sherron Collins
in Kansas very disciplined and organized half-court offense. With sophomore power forward Marcus Morris
having a breakout season and freshman wing Xavier Henry
always a great option to create an open look for, there are only so many touches to go around for their 5th leading scorer Taylor. Not only does Taylors role explain his meager 5.1 FGA per-contest, it also limits his playmaking opportunities.
When Taylor does get a chance to make plays for his teammates, he does an excellent job getting the ball into the paint, feeding the open man, and showing good court vision. Ranking in the top-25 of our database in assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted
, Taylor gets the job done as a playmaker thanks to his ability to draw additional defenders. As he gains experience and polish offensively, his feel for the game and fundamentals lead you to believe that he could develop into a solid distributor.
The aspect of Taylors game that seems most NBA-ready at the moment is his defense. While he doesnt create many turnovers, he shows excellent lateral quickness and appears to take things personally on the defensive end. A bit too aggressive at times extending his defense out towards half court, Taylor shows good discipline contesting shooters, has very active hands, and displays the ability to force his man into tough shots.
In projecting Taylor to the next level, one inevitably runs into a Jrue Holiday
comparison. Both players struggled to produce on talented teams, and both have many of the qualities teams look for in an outstanding all-around role-player. Just 19 years old, Taylor still has quite a bit of upside and does many of the little things that coaches love, but isnt ready to step into a role on a contender.
Considering who Kansas is set to lose to graduation at seasons end, Taylor faces a difficult decision. Logically speaking, he should have a much bigger role in KUs offense next season if he returns to school. Kansas is hot on the trail of two of the top high school guards in America in Brandon Knight
and Josh Selby
, though, both players who need the ball in their hands all the time to be successful. In addition, they have an extremely talented freshman point guard already waiting on the bench in Elijah Johnson
, a consensus top-30 recruit himself. At some point Taylor may start wondering how different his role will be if he sticks around for another year.