Know The Prospect: Jordan Taylor

What’s up Posting and Toasting? I’ve been reading the site for a while now, and with the draft upcoming, I thought this would be a good chance for me to sign up and share some info about a player I think would be a solid fit with the Knicks: Wisconsin PG Jordan Taylor.

Taylor is coming off a disappointing year in which his numbers fell almost across the board, but there’s a lot to like here for the Knicks. For starters, the man knows how to defend. Fact is, you don’t start for Bo Ryan if you can’t defend your man, and you sure don’t play all but 4 minutes per game, which Taylor has done for the past 2 seasons. The most notable example of his defensive prowess came last year when he stuffed Jacob Pullen of Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tourney on what would have been a game winning 3 point attempt (2:32 in the video below). He doesn’t have some freakish wingspan or insane quickness, but Taylor moves his feet well, competes, and plays smart defense.

Kansas State Postgame Reactions (via WisconsinAthletics)

Offensively Taylor is a mixed bag. From a distribution perspective, he set the NCAA all time record in assist to turnover ratio, posting a 3.01 in his 4 year career. Not too shabby, I know. That being said, this isn’t an offense that had him doing a lot of creating. For those not familiar with the Swing offense that Wisconsin uses, there is a lot of off ball movement and cutting. Pick and roll opportunities are slim to none, and while toward the end of 2011 they would run some pick and pops with Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil (now on the Milwaukee Bucks and Ratiopharm in the German League, respectively), that’s really as far away from the Swing as they’d go. Both players also graduated two years ago, and the team did not use Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans, their replacements, in the same way. As a result, Taylor was never really asked to do too much from a creating and passing perspective. He makes smart passes, and doesn’t force anything, but this isn’t a guy who is going to wow you with his passing ability.

As a shooter Taylor’s numbers may not impress some of you, but make no mistake, he really can shoot the basketball. Wisconsin gets the reputation for being boring offensively, and while that is largely a discussion for another day, more times than not they’ll use up the entire shot clock because no one creates separation off the ball. As a result of the other four starters, not to mention the bench players, being largely incapable of putting the ball in the basket, Taylor would end up with the ball with five or fewer seconds left and would be forced to take a contested 3. Surprisingly he made a pretty high percentage of those, as Luke Winn from SI states below.

"He seems to prefer to be guarded (as opposed to wide open) in catch-and-shoot situations. Of his 73 C&S jumpers, 34 were classified as "guarded," and he created 1.50 PPP on those shots. Somehow, on the 39 that were "unguarded," he created just 0.67 PPP. That's right: Taylor is less than half as efficient when left wide open than he is when hounded.

Luke Winn Preseason Power Rankings

I’m not even going to try to explain why he is a better shooter guarded than wide open, but the point is he can shoot the ball. The 37% from 3 isn't quite the sharpshooter quality 43% he posted his Junior year, but it's still a very solid number, and once again, a number of those shots were contested. His form is a little unorthodox (it’s part slingshot part cricket bowler), but he gets full extension of his arms and makes it very difficult to block.

His biggest weakness offensively -- by far -- is attacking the basket, where he simply lacks the quickness and explosion to penetrate by defenders and finish at the rim. His vertical is probably closer to Jorts’ than Russell Westbrook’s. But again, that’s not really something he was asked to do at Wisconsin, as he mostly hung around the perimeter and passed the ball to guys coming off of screens. One thing Taylor does have in his favor is a Brandon Bass-esque upper body frame. He is very strong, and can absorb some contact when trying to convert at the rim.

As a prospect in general, Taylor has been trending down since the end of 2011, when there were whispers in Madison that he was going to leave early for the NBA or at least test the waters. He decided to come back though, and his stock suffered. I choose to blame his senior year offensive struggles however, on the lack of a secondary scoring, and I really can’t overstate this enough. There was no one else on this team who could create their own offense with any sort of consistency, and the ball always ultimately ended up in Taylor’s hands. Defenses knew this and buckled down on Taylor, and his offensive numbers suffered as a result.

Someone who Taylor reminds me of in both physical ability and in possible play style in the NBA is Derek Fisher. Neither player will carry a team in the NBA, but they also won’t lose you any games, and considering the alternatives at backup point guard for the Knicks at the moment, that type of player is someone who has a role on this team.

When a team can get a rotational player with a mid-late second round pick, that pick should be considered a success, and while I think Taylor’s upside is definitely limited I think his ceiling is pretty high. He brings assets which every team needs in shooting ability, quality defense, and a high basketball IQ, and in my opinion, will be a solid backup point guard with an NBA future.