Its hard to argue that any player helped his stock at Portsmouth more than Jermaine Taylor, the most talked about player here this week, and the only one to spark mumblings of a potential first round selection. Measuring in at 64.5 in shoes while sporting an impressive 68.25 wingspan, Taylor helped himself both on and off the court this week.
In going back to analyze the tape we have of Taylor from Synergy Sports Technology, a few things stand out when comparing the footage to what we saw live. The most notable contrast is how much more evident Taylors athleticism was in this setting as opposed to at Central Florida, primarily due to the different level of defensive attention he was paid. At UCF, Taylor saw frequent double teams and aggressive weakside rotations on his drives to the rim, which in combination with his just adequate ball-handling led to him not being able to often fully utilize his athletic tools. Here at Portsmouth, being able to operate out of a Flex offense that put in many more isolation situations where he only needed a single dribble to get to the rim, and generally getting the ball with more space to operate, Taylor really shined, showing how explosive and versatile an athlete he really is.
Taylor doesnt have the greatest command of advanced ball-handling moves just yet, and his left hand is noticeably underdeveloped, but his slashing game is quite effective for other reasons, namely his strong first step in combination with his excellent body control and shiftiness with the ball in the lane. Hes terrific at making strong, aggressive moves coming off a screen or in other quick actions, showing great footwork and excellent body control. Also, while he isnt the most versatile ball-handler, hes effective enough with the ball in space and he shows a good understanding of his limitations, as evidenced by his outstanding 0.13 turnovers per possession this season, which is even more impressive given that Taylor has the third highest usage rate in our database.
Taylors well-developed frame allows him to finish through contact at the rim, while he also has a solid floater in his repertoire that he can utilize when necessary. His mid-range game is an effective weapon as well, being able to pull up in the 5-15 feet range going in either direction. Taylors body control on pull-up jumpers is exceptional, always staying upright with shoulders squared to the rim, however his release is prone to sloppiness when he has a hand in his face, leading to some errant misses.
Taylors jump shot in general is also impressive, as he shows range to the college three-point line with very strong form, being capable of scoring coming off screens, spotting up, or pulling up. As with his mid-range game, his release can get sloppy when a defender closes out hard, but otherwise his form is excellent.
As for the other aspects of his offensive game, Taylor shows solid court vision even though he didnt dish out many assists at UCF. His passing game is clearly a work in progress, as he definitely has a scorers mentality, and it showed when he tried to adjust his game at Portsmouth, leading to some ill-advised turnovers. Taylor is also aggressive on the offensive glass, using his combination of strength and athleticism to get his hands on balls over players much bigger than himself.
On the defensive end, Taylor is fairly unimpressive, not making use of his excellent physical tools consistently, showing an inconsistent stance with perimeter defense, not putting in consistent effort to move laterally, constantly lagging through screens off the ball, and showing a general lack of focus oftentimes. Still, its clear that he has considerable potential on this end of the floor with his wingspan and athleticism, and it does manifest from time to time, though he has a long way to go to even be an average defender by NBA standards.
Looking forward to the draft, Taylor clearly has an NBA body with NBA athleticism and some NBA skills, which is why there have began to be some mumblings about looks in the first round. Still, despite his incredible scoring talents, questions will remain about his shot-selection and lack of contributions in most other areas, namely defense. Taylor will certainly have some chance to make an NBA roster this year, but whether he sticks around will depend on how he develops his ball-handling, defense, and if he can adjust from an offensive focal point to playing in a smaller role.