Jeff Taylor hasnt been the revelation he appeared to be at Las Vegas Summer League. He also hasnt been bad.
Hes played like what he is a rookie chosen at the top of the second round. That means the best course is a measure of patience.
The assistant coaches do a great job that way, said Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap. They debrief him each day, show him a little bit of film and maybe have a meal with him to make sure were taking their temperatures both him and (fellow rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) on how theyre doing.
Small forwards Kidd-Gilchrist and Taylor showed great promise in summer league, so much so the Bobcats rescinded a qualifying offer to Derrick Brown, the incumbent at that position. Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick, has been solid in the preseason, particularly on defense.
Taylor, the 31st pick, has been less consistent. Hes averaging 4.3 points and one rebound and shooting 33 percent from the field. Dunlap said the key to coaching Taylor right now is not becoming so infatuated with his versatility that you overload him with tasks.
I need to make sure we dont stretch him too much, Dunlap said. He is very diverse: He can shoot the three, he is an excellent in-space one-on-one defender and were also finding his penetration game is very good. He has great legs, so he gets to the rim.
Yet hes shooting 33 percent.
Hes finding out the guys are bigger, longer, stronger in the NBA, Dunlap added. So weve got to develop a middle game for him.
Taylor, out of Vanderbilt, is stoic by nature. He was taught early on by his father, a former NBA player, not to show a lot of emotion in good times or bad.
So a little adversity now doesnt rattle him.
I know Im a defensive player and that I can spot up and make shots. So Im just figuring it out where I can be most successful, Taylor described. The playbooks in the NBA are most extensive and defensive concepts and rotations are a big learning process. But I have an open mind and Ive always been willing to be coached.
Part of that learning curve has been testing how aggressively he can guard without fouling. After Taylor committed two quick fouls in the Bobcats first exhibition, Dunlap made sure to remind Taylor not to become passive. Like Dunlap said, these guys are bigger, longer and stronger, so theyre harder to guard.
You cant put your hands on guys, you cant hack, Taylor said. Just use your head, do what youve always done and get the job done.