By Wes Robinson
Charlotte, NC September 20, 2013
SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE SEASON
Entering his sophomore season in the NBA, Bobcats forward Jeffery Taylor is preparing to reach new heights in 2013-14. After a decent rookie year in which he averaged 6.1 points in 19 minutes, Taylor was never really able to showcase the consistent scorer he is capable of becoming while battling to find time in the rotation, but this year seems to be different. Taylor has spent his summer working hard on his skills, starting things out impressively in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He was one of the best players in the summer league, finishing third in scoring with 20.3 points per game. Also, adding in some of his great athleticism with some good eyebrow raising highlights that impressed many fans.
“I’ve always been athletic,” Taylor said this week after optional team workouts. “After a year in the league, you’ll feel more comfortable. I just want to build off that.”
But what stands out most for Head Coach Steve Clifford is Taylor’s strong work ethic.
“He’s had a great summer because he put a lot into it,” said Clifford. “By the time I got here, he was in everyday lifting in the weight room working with Stephen Silas so he was in great shape for summer league.”
With the Bobcats finishing 26th in the league last year in scoring, they seemed to be in need of some strong scorers, but Taylor looks comfortable taking on that challenge for the Cats in his second season. With a lot of attention being focused on team leader Kemba Walker and newcomer Al Jefferson, Taylor could find open spots to get high percentage looks around the basket. He showcased his ability to shoot well from beyond the arc in the Vegas Summer League, shooting 42 percent from the field. But Taylor can provide the Bobcats with a solid two-way combination of abilities as well, not just with his offense, but his defense as well. This could free some pressure for some of the veterans on the team, utilizing fresh legs on the floor.
“His talent is out the roof. He’s been working hard and it showed in the summer league. He’s going to be big in that second unit,” said point guard Ramon Sessions. “It’s big for what he went through in his first year, but he kept working and I think he’ll be ready this season.”
Taylor isn’t a starter, but his explosiveness and athletic qualifications could allow him to become a valuable asset on the second team.
Taylor spent the final moments of his summer in his home country Sweden, where he went on to participate in this year’s FIBA Eurobasket 2013 Tournament. Taylor led the Sweden team in scoring with 21.2 points, while shooting almost 47 percent from the floor and 42 percent from the three-point range. In one of his more impressive performances, Tyalor had a 28-point performance against Italy while connecting on 50 percent of his shots from the field. He also added seven rebounds, but Sweden would lose to Italy, 82-79. Unfortunately, Taylor could not lead his home country to a championship, but his development showed early flashes of enhanced improvement.
“It was a great experience to play against that level of competition. My shot felt really good,” Taylor said. “I had a good balance with driving to the basket, posting up and hitting shots.
Following in his father’s footsteps, a former NBA player, Taylor has spent many years participating in European competitions and takes strong pride in representing his home country. Taylor did spend his high school years in Hobbs, New Mexico, where his father was a star in the late 1970s. But most of his roots playing basketball come from his participation in a Swedish youth league, Norrköping Ungdomsbasket Förening.
Besides basketball, family will always be a number one priority for Taylor. When heading overseas this summer, Taylor traveled back to his home country, just to make it back in time to celebrate his mother’s birthday.
“I got there on the morning of her birthday and made it to her house about noon so everything is good,” added a chuckling Taylor.
SIZE AND ATHLETICISM
Standing at 6-7 and 213 pounds, Taylor could definitely bring in great size and more cover ground for the Cats front and backcourts. With a reputation of being a stout defender, Taylor has ideal size to defend other small forwards in the NBA. As a result, this could improve the Bobcats perimeter defense to better defend teams that can shoot the three very well. Offensively, he is a high-level athlete who could explicitly make a big man pay if they are not aware of his quickness and speed. One of the biggest attributes that Charlotte has in Taylor is something that could not be taught – athletic ability. Athleticism will allow him to be more effective driving to the basket and be more dangerous in transition.
Despite a rough first year, Taylor was still able to show he could play a prestigious role for the Bobcats future. He was one of two players to average 6.1 points, leading all second-round picks from the 2012 NBA Draft. The only question is what kind of role will he play with a new look Bobcats team? Effective shooter? Good defender? Transition player? The answer is all of these attributes. After finishing almost last in every category of team statistics last year, the Bobcats are a team in the process of getting better who could use a player that could fulfill every aspect of the team needs. Taylor is a work in progress, but his work ethic could help him have an impressive sophomore season.
“I want to play,” said Taylor. “I want to be apart of the rotation and get significant minutes this year and help the team win in any way I can.”