NBA hopes still very alive for UW’s Taylor

No, most pundits and mock drafts don’t list Jordan Taylor being selected by any team in the NBA Draft. And no, Taylor wasn’t among the original top-60 college prospects invited to the prestigious draft Combine in Chicago later this week.

But Taylor’s former basketball coach at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan, offers this response: So what?

“You know what everybody knows about him?” Ryan said last week. “The all-time career leader in assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s disciplined enough and listens. He’s smart. You can’t tell me there aren’t teams out there that couldn’t use that.”

Though Taylor might not be a draft night pick on June 28, he still could land a free agent deal. Taylor is in the process of attempting to prove pundits wrong by venturing from city to city for individual workouts with NBA franchises. On Sunday, he was one of six college prospects to work out for the Milwaukee Bucks.

At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Taylor’s perceived physical limitations appear to be holding the point guard back in his quest to play at the next level despite earning preseason All-American college status last year. Another question mark is Taylor’s lack of consistent shooting with the Badgers.

Still, Ryan believes Taylor will earn a shot somewhere, even it means serving as a backup point guard in the NBA or working his way through the NBA D-League.

Taylor finished his college career with a 3.01 assists-to-turnovers ratio, which shattered the previous NCAA record of 2.70. He ranked seventh in Wisconsin history in career points (1,533) and second in assists (464).

Taylor’s statistics also dropped considerably during his senior season while playing with a new crop of role players, which certainly didn’t help his draft stock. He averaged 14.8 points, shot 40.2 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range. As a junior, he averaged 18.1 points, shot 43.3 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on 3-pointers.

“People are projecting him wherever he’s going to be projected,” Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz said. “That’s fine. It’s just hard to pass up a guy with the intangibles that he has. Great personality. Great floor leader. I don’t know what his niche is going to be in the NBA, but all it takes is one team to like him.”

Ryan compared Taylor to Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, the former St. Joseph’s standout who measures 6-0, 190 pounds. Nelson just finished his eighth NBA season.

Ryan said neither Taylor nor Nelson is particularly explosive, but both are tough-nosed, undersized guards who make a team better.

“When you take a look at injuries now in professional sports, how many games athletes miss, who’s more durable than Jordan Taylor?” Ryan said. “As a backup position, whatever, he’d be a pretty good addition.”

Taylor has already worked out for Golden State and Sacramento and also reportedly has dates scheduled with Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Phoenix and Toronto.

If there is a positive correlation to make between Taylor’s game and his fit as an NBA player, Bruesewitz said it’s in his ability to play off the pick and roll. At Wisconsin, Taylor often found himself with the ball and the shot clock winding down, using screens to free himself for shots or open looks for teammates. But the NBA tempo, with a 24-second shot clock, will be considerably different from Wisconsin’s methodical approach that milked an entire 35-second college shot clock.

Despite the style differences, Bruesewitz — a three-year teammate of Taylor’s — believes Taylor is simply too valuable to be left off an NBA roster next season.

“He’s going to be at the next level,” Bruesewitz said. “He’s such a good teammate. He’s a heck of a basketball player. He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever played basketball with. …

“Once teams talk to him and figure out what kind of guy he is, I don’t think too many people will be disappointed to pull the trigger on him.”

Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.