After being kicked out of the Iowa State basketball program for academic reasons, Mike Taylor
opted to play last season for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA's D-League. He showed off his intriguing, yet inconsistent basketball skills throughout the course of the season, and was able to make a pretty nice splash throughout the week in Orlando. Few players helped their stock as much as Mike Taylor
did with his week at pre-draft camp, going from being a player very few people had seen or even heard of, to someone that could very well get drafted when its all said and done.
Offensively, Taylor excels in transition, where he is always looking to push the ball, and was the quickest player up and down the floor throughout the course of the week. In the half-court, he displayed an incredibly quick first step and an explosive vertical leap that will allow him to finish effectively at the rim against bigger players in the NBA, despite his lack of bulk. His jumper falls quite effectively at times, and he shows range out to beyond the NBA three point line. He remains streaky in this area, as he showed throughout the D-League season (34% 3P, 71% FT), and his shot selection from deep could also stand to improve. Taylor also shows a nice mid-range game, with a very nice 10foot floater driving to the basket.
Taylors biggest drawback as a prospect at the moment is that hes undersized for an NBA two-guard, but lacks the true point guard skills to handle the one full time. He did show good vision on the pick and roll a couple times during the week, and can find the open man on the dribble drive as well. At times he might get a little individualistic, though. He tends to force the ball into the paint occasionally, and leaves his feet with no place to go with the ball, which leads to very high turnover numbers (3.4 in 28 minutes in the D-League).
Defensively, Taylor also has a great deal of work to do. He has the lateral quickness and wingspan to become an effective defender, but loses focus easily when it comes to man to man defense. As a help defender, he tends to try and gamble in the passing lanes for steals, which leaves his team at a disadvantage. Taylor has the explosive scoring ability and athleticism to make an impact at the NBA level, but he must overcome his mental lapses on the court over the next few seasons.
His aggressive nature on the offensive end allowed him to stand out throughout the week in Orlando, and he moved himself solidly into second round conversations with the way he played. NBA teams have been moving more and more in the direction of combo guards like Mike Taylor
over the past few years, and they could view him as a Louis Williams
/Jannero Pargo type sparkplug to bring off the bench. He surely has the athleticism and offensive instincts to warrant that, even if hes not a very polished player at this point.
Teams will do the research they need into his background to see if there are any additional red-flags after he was arrested twice last year and booted off the team, but his head coach Bryan Gates speaks very highly of his character and recommends him strongly. There is an argument to be made that he played against stronger competition in the D-League this year than almost any NCAA player, and has a championship on his resume (scoring 27 points in 28 minutes to go along with 7 turnovers in the championship game
). It doesnt look like hes a finished product right now either.