During my first two 2012 NBA Draft prospect profiles, the focus was on players that would require a trade-up in order for the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire. This time around, I’ll turn my attention towards a potential target who the Lakers could land even if they stayed put at their current No. 60 spot.
There’s a good chance that the Lakers will have to address the point guard position at some point this off-season. With Ramon Sessions announcing he’s not going to exercise his $4.5 million player-option for the 2012-2013 season and Steve Blake a potential victim of the amnesty clause, point guard could soon be the Lakers’ weakest link. Even if they do stay put on draft day, though, the Lakers do have several options at the end of the draft who might be able to secure the point guard spot.
With that in mind, let me give you a quick rundown on Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor.
Prior to the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, Taylor was seen as one of the nation’s premier point guards. Due in large part to a stellar 2010-2011 campaign at Wisconsin, Taylor’s name quickly spread as the hype began to build.
And then the 2011-2012 season rolled around and Taylor’s stock began to fall. He struggled out of the gate offensively and turned in a couple disappointing performances against ranked opponents. As the end of the season neared, he elevated his game but still lacked the dominance that he had displayed throughout his junior season. Although he failed to maintain his elite level of play this past season, the appeal lies in the hopes that he can return to his 2010-2011 form.
What Taylor would bring to the table is efficient mid-to-long-range shooting and the defense that the Lakers have been missing from their point guard spot for some time.
Especially when coming off of the dribble, Taylor’s jump shot is hard to stop. He does a great job of creating space with the dribble, allowing himself enough room to consistently put up clean, unobstructed shots. His senior year shooting percentages (40.2 from the field; 36.9 from three) were impressive enough to grab the NBA’s attention, but a potential return to his 2010-2011 numbers (43.3 from the field; 42.9 from three) is what makes drafting him worth the risk.
Apart from his shooting, the other facet of Taylor’s game that really stands out is his defense. Although he’s not going to cause an overwhelming amount of turnovers (one steal per game last season), Taylor does an outstanding job of staying in front of his opponent and doesn’t allow much separation. He relentlessly fights through screens and isn’t afraid to get physical. He brings tenacity and determination to the defensive side of the court; something that the Lakers are in dire need of.
More than anything, Taylor provides promise as an NBA point guard because he’s smart with the ball and rarely makes costly mistakes. He averaged only 1.6 turnovers per game in 2011-2012 and has great ball security, something that the Lakers desperately need to improve on. He’s not the best passer available and can be a bit streaky at times when it comes to shooting, but could definitely entice some teams with his potential to be a late-second-round sleeper.
What makes Taylor a bit off-putting as a prospect is his lack of explosiveness on offense. Even with a reliable jumper, Taylor struggles to get to the rim and doesn’t have the quickness or agility to consistently get a step on his defender. His offensive production in the NBA will be limited to jumpers, which the Lakers already have enough of coming from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers need a point guard who can penetrate the defense and open up passing lanes, which isn’t exactly Taylor’s forte.
Although he has displayed solid passing throughout his college career, Taylor isn’t the type of facilitator that the Lakers’ offense needs. His passing got better as his career progressed, but the 4.1 assists per game that he turned in during his senior season didn’t do much to prove that he could be an efficient passer at the next level.
Even after a strong showing at the 2012 NBA Combine, there’s a good chance that Taylor could slide all the way down to the Lakers at No. 60. His huge drop in production and effectiveness from his junior to senior year raises a big red flag that could force NBA teams to look elsewhere. That, however, could be a blessing in disguise for the Lakers, who could watch the talented Taylor fall into their laps.
Taylor might not be the dynamic point guard that would improve the Lakers’ offense tenfold, but he has enough raw potential to make him well worth the last pick in the draft.