BY RICH NARDO
Very few NBA point guards boast as impressive of a pedigree as Tyshawn Taylor. This is what makes it so frustrating that he is so far removed from the prototype of the position.
A true point guard is a team leader, on and off the floor. He’s more interested in setting up his teammates than scoring for himself, and is rarely, if ever, caught out of position or turns the ball over. Even off the floor a point guard is supposed to be the team’s leader, much like a quarterback is supposed to do in football.
Tyshawn Taylor is turnover prone. He’s more likely to penetrate and score than look to hit an open teammate. As for off the court, he’s had a few slip-ups, most recently letting it be known publicly he isn’t happy with his playing situation.
How does someone who has been privy to the sort of basketball mentorship Taylor has end up this way? More importantly, why are the Nets keeping him around?
The answer is threefold. (1) He’s managed to be a winner at every level he’s played at, (2) he’s got the potential to be that good in this league, and (3) coach Jason Kidd just might be the final piece to Taylor’s mentorship puzzle.
Jason Kidd was the epitome of what a point guard should be. He was a floor general, an excellent defender and knew how to make everyone on the court around him better. Through the press, we get the impression that he might think Taylor is capable of the same thing.
In a recent interview with NetsDaily.com, Kidd had this to say about his expectations for Taylor referring to the summer league in Orlando: “I just want to see him in this situation, this setting, being the leader, that’s what I’m pushing. I will lean on him heavily, I’m looking for him to put guys in position offensively and defensively."
Obviously this indicates that Kidd is looking to turn him into a more traditional point guard. The question is will Taylor soak up the lessons his coach is trying to teach?
Early indications say yes. In an interview of his own, Taylor was very humble, explaining: “I just want to show my coaching staff that I can be a point guard, make good decisions with the ball, get my teammates involved and just put pressure on the defense. Be a lock-down defender, or a decent one, anyway, and just run the team."
Notice the lack of whining about playing time?
Let’s take a quick step back for a moment and look at Taylor’s pedigree. He played his high school ball for the legendary Bobby Hurley at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. Here he was part of one of the best high school basketball teams in history as a senior, going 32-0 and winning a national championship.
Next step was playing for Bill Self at Kansas University, a legend in his own right. Under Coach Self at KU, Taylor won four straight Big 12 regular season championships, two Big 12 tourney championships, amassed a 229-31 record and led the team to the national championship game in 2012 where they lost to Kentucky. Taylor also starred on the 2009 FIBA USA U19 championship team coached by Jamie Dixon during this time period.
So far as a pro, Taylor has only dressed for 38 games with the Nets, only one of which was worth mentioning: 14 points, 3 assists vs. Washington last April's garbage game. However he did light up the D-League in the eight games he played with the Springfield Armor, averaging 24.6 points, 7.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds over that span and giving Nets fans a glimpse of what he was capable of.
So here we are at the 2013 summer league. Taylor still turns the ball over way too much for someone who is suppose to be its primary caretaker, as seen with his six turnover performance against Detroit on July 6th. He also still looks awkward shooting a jump shot, but if anyone knows about having an awkward looking jumper it’s Coach Kidd. On the other hand, his upside has shown through too, leading the team in scoring in that same game against Detroit.
Tyshawn Taylor is a gifted athlete with excellent ball-handling ability. He can change direction with the ball on a dime, and he’s big for a point guard at 6’3”. If Coach Kidd really is the missing piece to shaping Taylor, the upside is tremendous. The Nets are more than set with Deron Williams as their starting point guard, but still the lightning quick Taylor could be a great change of pace from the more bruising style of Deron Williams.
For the Nets sake let’s hope Taylor grows into the breed of point guard that would make all of his past great coaches proud.
Rich Nardo, from Long Beach, N.Y., is a staff writer for BigBlueUnited.com, a blog that covers the New York Giants. You can follow him on Twitter @heynardo.