Looking at every Mock Draft, it's striking to see how many players are capable of cracking NBA rotations next season and stapling themselves in rotations before the 2013-14 season. There will still be gambles throughout the first round, but team's will be gambling on high ceilings.
Someone rarely disputed -- if at all -- to be available to the Bulls at the 29th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft is Tyshawn Taylor. If Gar/Pax crunches the numbers to learn that keeping C.J. Watson for one extra season just isn't worth over $6 million after the luxury tax, there's buzz that Taylor could be that pick.
Taylor is an accomplished, experienced NCAA point guard at 22-years-old out of an elite Kansas program, but what you see is pretty much what you get with him. He shoots well from long range, took a heavy load at a highly scrutinized school, performed at high levels through extremely long shifts on a the team that went to the NCAA Championship, and is an NBA-ready defender:
The problem is that he has been a bit of a knucklehead on and off the court. Off the court, he has been in a little trouble. But turnovers, clock management, turnovers, shot selection, and turnovers are something that will all translate to the NBA in a really bad way, as Mike Schmitz includes in his great audiovisual scouting report with commentary from Kansas head coach Bill Self:.
Taylor is always going to have a difficult time covering up his weaknesses at this age because NBA teams doesn't want to wait for a guy to turn 24 for him to 'get it', but let's be honest: he's a 6' 4" point guard with wingspan over 6' 6" a 36.5" vertical leap, a 3-point shot that will definitely translate well to the NBA, an aggressively efficient defender, and has faced much higher scrutiny than most players in this draft after being the primary ball handler in a program expected to make the Final Four every year.
If he were a 6' 7" winger with a similarly proportional wingspan and vertical, those strengths would dominate the discussion instead of the weaknesses.
That's what height means in this game and the little value that point guards over 20 carry in the draft.
All of that said, this is a different NBA. The positional revolution is upon us and Taylor's strengths are too strong to bench him, so he'll be an asset to small backcourt lineups coming off the bench. His speed makes him an asset in transition to any defense that rebounds and forces turnovers well -- as a primary ball handler or simply adding to the numbers advantage by getting ahead of the defense.
His off-court knuckleheadedness was "troubling" to Steve Fetch of the SB Nation Kanas Jayhawks blog, Rock Chalk Talk. He added in an email:
But for the most part, it was just kid stuff. This past year he stayed out of trouble and, whether it was a coincidence or not, his play jumped up.
Tyshawn has all the tools to play the pick and roll in an NBA offense, as he is quick and strong enough to get into the lane; and he's improved his jumper to the point where he can hit it consistently. The problem is the efficiency hasn't been there. He had a 19.5% turnover rate this year which -- while I don't think it was bad in terms of hurting KU because they needed him to create so much -- he'll obviously have to tone it down a bit in the NBA. I do think he offsets that with good playmaking ability though, and his ability to get into the lane draws extra defenders quite often, and leads to a lot of easy assists.
If he improves his decision making I think he'll be a solid NBAer. One thing that teams have to love is that he was a four-year starter at Kansas (Self's only one ever at Kansas) and guards have to do so much in his offense in terms of decision making and playmaking that I think he'll be more NBA ready than some other guys. Also I think his defense is really underrated. He's laterally quick enough to guard PGs and he can guard bigger players as well thanks to his crazy long reach.
In most drafts, Taylor would feel like a bit of a steal at #29. Maybe the current Taylor gets drafted in the top 20 of last year's draft. If not, it'd be crazy to see him slipping past #25. Before this draft, it's rare to even see him picked in the first round, and he's so far at the bottom, you have to think it's there is something wrong with your Mock Draft when you put a speedy Final Four point guard who scored so well in the second round.
Jeff Goodman at CBSSports.com has the Bulls picking Taylor over Evan Fournier, Tony Wroten, Orlando Johnson, John Jenkins, and Jeffrey Taylor. DraftExpress.com has the Bulls with the same pick over Will Barton, along with Wroten, Johnson, Jenkins, and Festus Ezeli.
The buzz is that Taylor will be available to the Bulls, at #29, but he's still a top five point guard in this draft. After Damien Lillard and Kendall Marshall, it's unsure how teams rank Taylor, Marquis Teague, Tony Wroten, Jared Cunningham, and Scott Machado at the position. Taylor's best fit is with other ball dominators drawing defenders away from him to catch n' shoot or a defense that forces the stops to run the floor, so he already fits with teams that are already pretty good. Therefore, it isn't crazy to see someone just take him to add speed, shooting, and defense with the bonus of a secondary ball handler in the #23-to-#28 range.
Taylor will simply not likely be the best player available to the Bulls. And what they need from a scorer is length, at least. And if the length isn't there, an already strong ability to defend will need to be there -- which Taylor has -- but longer players with better shooting touches should be available in Barton, Fournier, or Johnson.
The reason to take Taylor is a micro-tactic within a macro-strategy that involves not bringing Watson back. The Bulls will barely have a shot at a disaster like Raymond Felton to play the point for the mini-MLE, so the prospect of Taylor over a wing scorer may win out in the war room on Draft Night, June 28. If C.J. is gone, the point will just have to run by a leftover veteran and maybe an undrafted free agent -- both playing for minimum salaries -- until Derrick Rose has recovered from his recent ACL surgery.
I can't put him ahead of Quincy Miller, Johnson, or Barton (scouted here, here, and here, respectively) on my draft board for the Bulls. I just can't justify drafting for position in the Bulls condition of needing a little of everything to fill the roster.