Jeff Taylor is one of the most interesting, underrated prospects to come out of the 2012 NBA Draft. The Vanderbilt senior averaged a well-rounded 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals on 49 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent from long range in his final college season. Taylor is an elite athlete who knows how to get to the rim and is an elite defender, so it's easy to see that he should have a long NBA career.
What Taylor Brings to the Team
Taylor will bring defense, athleticism, experience and a growing offensive arsenal to the NBA. Long known as an athletic specimen and defender who couldn't shoot, Taylor learned to hit three pointers in his final college season, which impressed NBA scouts.
Some talent scouts fear that shooting is a mirage that won't transfer to the NBA level, but Taylor hit those shots in workouts as well so fans should be optimistic that he will shoot well in the pros. He also needs to improve his ball-handling and shot creation off the wing. If he can do that, there is nothing to stop Taylor from becoming an NBA starter.
What the Experts Are Saying
NBA scouts love Taylor's amazing pure athleticism, size, defensive effort and experienced leadership. He plays on both ends of the floor and brings great character to the NBA. Scouts have two major fears about Taylor: that he won't shoot well in the pros, which will neutralize his athletic penetration to the rim, and that he will never learn to create his own shot or create shots for others off the wing.
Right now, he is neither a classic ball-handling forward, like Paul Pierce, nor a marksman wing, like Danny Granger, so he will need to improve in one or both areas to start in the NBA. As Draft Express' Kyle Nelson wrote:
"While Jeffery Taylor has seemingly been a prospect since he stepped foot on Vanderbilt's campus as a freshman, the 6'7 swingman struggled throughout his career to prove that he was more than just an elite athlete with a raw skill set. That assessment has certainly changed throughout his senior season, however, as Taylor is playing the best basketball of his career, especially after leading Vanderbilt to its first SEC Tournament championship in over 60 years."
Taylor will get solid rotation minutes as a rookie because he is already a top-notch defender. He can also get to the rim and score just off a mix of pure athleticism and mid-range shooting. But to earn 30-plus minutes per game, he will need to prove that he has three-point range on his jumper and that he can take the ball at the key, move with it in his hands and either find his own shot or create one for teammates. Until he does, he will be a limited, but effective, contributor.
Likely to develop into a decent role player, Taylor will help the Bobcats in the athleticism department. Underdeveloped, underutilized talent has been their problem in the past, but if Taylor fulfills his potential, a lineup comprised of him, Kemba Walker, and Kidd-Gilchrist could fill the seats and rack up the wins in Charlotte. Be patient, Bobcats fans—the future is coming.