RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jeffery Taylor

Posted by AMurawa on May 29th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Jeffery Taylor

School: Vanderbilt

Height/Weight: 6’7”, 225 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Jeffery Taylor's Athleticism, Defensive Ability and Perimeter Jumper Should Find Him An NBA Home (AP Photo)

Overview: When Taylor first showed up in Nashville four seasons ago, there was little doubt that he had the athletic ability to make an impact at the collegiate level. However, despite his above-average athleticism, there were enough holes in his game to make him a questionable NBA prospect. While he was a ready-made defender, his jumper was a mess (he hit just 22% of his 41 three-point attempts as a freshman, then attempted just 11 from deep as a sophomore), his handle was just average and his effort seemed to be hit-or-miss. But, from day one he was an important part of the Commodore offense, using up 26% of the team’s possessions and taking 25% of his teams’ shots, numbers that stayed pretty stable throughout his career. The difference was that over the years he began to use those possessions and shots more efficiently. In his final season with the ‘Dores, he hit just a shade under two three-pointers a game at a 42.3% clip, posting a 57% effective field goal percentage, while still keeping up his game-changing defensive play and chipping in on the glass and playing the most complete basketball of his career. And, he did all that while playing four seasons without any true play-making offensive player alongside him. Still, he heads into the NBA Draft needing to convince basketball executives that he is ready for the big time. Athleticism and defense are not in question, but he’s not got great size for his position (6’7” with a 6’6” wingspan isn’t very exciting), he has never proven the ability to create his own shot and, the fact that he’s 23 years old means there’s not a whole lot of upside left for his game.

Will Translate to the NBA: Taylor is an NBA-caliber athlete, with jump-out-of-the-gym hops, excellent lateral quickness, great speed in the open court, a strong frame,  and a body that is ready to earn serious minutes for 82 games immediately. He’s a smart kid with a great basketball IQ, serious work ethic and a maturity that should allow him to contribute at the next level immediately. He’s got the ability to guard NBA twos and threes from the word go (although he’ll certainly have some growing pains) and can even hold his own against ones and fours if caught in a switch. And, his newfound confidence and ability to hit the perimeter jumper means he doesn’t have to be a liability on the offensive end.

Needs Work: If Taylor ever wanted to be an elite NBA small forward, he would have to develop a more dangerous game off the bounce. He’s got a quick enough first step so that it remains a possibility, but his handle has never progressed beyond merely adequate – he’ll have to improve there in order to take the next step offensively.

Comparison Players: How about Nicolas Batum? While Portland’s Frenchman has more length than Taylor can boast, he is a dangerous three-point shooter who’s primary strength is on the defensive end. And, like Batum, who got 18 minutes per game in his first NBA season before shifting up to a 30-minute-a-night guy in the past two seasons, Taylor is ready to be a contributor right away. Through four seasons, Batum has averaged 10 points, four rebounds and more than a three per night while chipping in his share of highlight reel plays in the open court. One edge that Taylor has on Batum is his strong body. While Batum is a beanpole at 6’8” and 200 pounds, Taylor is strong enough to not get pushed around out there.

Best Case Scenario: There’s no reason that Taylor can’t be an NBA starter for a handful of years. If he winds up on the right team, he should be ready to chip in 15-20 minutes (or more) as a rookie, and if paired with a play-making point guard on a team that likes to get out and run, he could excel in the open court, knock down threes on kick-outs in the halfcourt and defend like a mad man on the other end. At this point, it is too late in his career to expect him to develop that killer game off the bounce, but if his perimeter jumper sticks around, it, combined with his defensive acumen, should earn him a paycheck for years to come.

Best NBA Fit: Taylor would fit best on an up-tempo team with a penetrating point guard. He may not last until the second pick in the second round, but he would sure be a nice fit with John Wall and the Washington Wizards. He’d have to compete for playing time at the wing with Rashard Lewis, Chris Singleton and Jordan Crawford, but one could imagine him on the receiving end of plenty of spectacular transition buckets from Wall, while helping to turn the tides for a bad defensive team.

Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Not many seniors improved as much as Taylor who has always struggled with consistency. Despite playing a position that has a lot of talent in this draft, should hear his name called in the 20s. ” 

*This post was contributed by RTC’s Andrew Murawa. He can be found on Twitter @amurawa.

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