Taylor looks to impress during NBA workouts
INDIANAPOLIS – While checking off his list of physical attributes, Tyshawn Taylor noted with a sly smile he was “kind of fast.”
He is making no attempt, however, to run from his past.
The meteoric Kansas guard knows questions about his on-court inconsistency and off-court disciplinary issues will follow him throughout the NBA pre-draft workout and interview process and he is doing his best to face them head-on.
“A lot of people have questions not about my ability on the court but about some stuff off the court and I think this is kind of a clean slate,” said Taylor, among six players that worked out for the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday. “They’ve definitely got questions and they’re going to ask them and I’m going to be honest about it and go from there.
“An 18 or 19-year-old kid in college, you’re going to make some mistakes and you’re going to mess up sometimes. You’ve just got to grow from it. I’m 22 now and I’ve grown from my mistakes so I think this is definitely a fresh start for me and I’m excited.”
In 2009, Taylor dislocated his thumb in a fight. Two years later, he was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules, missing a pair of conference games. He was suspended again prior to the 2011-12 season, missing a pair of exhibition games.
Something seemed to click after the final suspension. Taylor went on to have the best season of his career, averaging 16.6 points and 4.8 assists, guiding the Jayhawks to the NCAA Championship game.
Taylor said the last suspension showed him “how important I was to my team, how disappointed I felt in myself for letting those guys down,” and so he pledged to be the first guy in the gym and last guy out, to become a leader by example.
“I didn’t want to do that again so I tried to do everything right on the court and off the court,” he said. “I made sure I led by example and I think part of that is why our team did so good this year, we had good leaders, guys that really wanted to work — myself, Thomas (Robinson), the other two seniors, we did a good job leading by example and that’s something we didn’t have the previous years. We had really good teams but not great leadership.
“This year was completely different and I think I was a big part of that because I understood how important I was to my team. I gave myself a pep talk and said, ‘Look, man, you’re in position where you could do some great things or you could totally screw it up. Make the right choice.’ I think I did.”
Taylor has a wealth of physical gifts, including that speed, but must prove to NBA teams he can run a team as a full-time point guard. At 6-3, 185 he lacks the size to play shooting guard, though he made better than 38 percent of his 3-point attempts his last two seasons in college.
Part of that process is demonstrating the ability to make sound, consistent decisions with the ball. He averaged 3.5 turnovers a game as a senior, including 11 early in the season against Duke. At one point during the workout Monday, he made a quick drive to his right but left his feet, got caught in the air and hurled a cross-court pass out of bounds, nowhere near a teammate.
“I think everybody knows I can defend, everybody knows I’m kind of fast, I’m athletic, so I think being able to run a team, make the right decisions at the right time and hit the open shots — if I come out here and show teams I can do that, then I’ll be fine,” he said. “Just to be in this situation is humbling and a blessing so I’m going to take full advantage of it. Whatever team drafts me I think is going to be a team willing to look past those questions and see my ability. I think I’ll fit good on any team because I’ll work hard and I’m a winner.”
Taylor is taking an aggressive approach to the workouts because he knows he has much to prove. A player with first-round talent, he faces the prospect of being drafted late in the second round — if at all — unless he can turn those question marks into exclamation points.