Last week the Sacramento Kings made a quiet move that helped the Houston Rockets clear a roster space before they made a larger three team deal that yielded swingman Terrence Williams. By giving up a future (highly protected) 2nd round pick, the Kings received second year shooting guard Jermaine Taylor out of Central Florida as well as cash considerations. The 24-year-old Taylor is what can be described as a high flier with tremendous upside- upside Rocket’s coach Rick Adelman did not have the time to mold.
On Monday, I had a chance to sit down with the confident and athletic Jermaine Taylor. Here is that interview in its entirety.
TPP: What was your experience like in Houston?
Taylor: I had a real good experience. I had fun. There are a lot of good people out there- coaches, teammates, everybody. I don’t think I was given a fair opportunity, but other than that, I loved it.
TPP: Coach Adelman has long been known as a coach who likes to let young players learn from the bench. Do you think you kind of fell into that category with the Rockets?
Taylor: I think so. I was told that I was caught up in a numbers game. I kind of saw it from the start. My first year I wasn’t really worried about it because I was a rookie, I was just trying to get adjusted. My second year, I came into the season thinking that I was going to play. I was ready to go, I spent my whole summer working out, but then I could tell from my first practice that they had the starting five on one team, then the second five on another team and I was on the third team, so I was starting to see that this was going to go the same way as last year. That’s when I could kind of tell, but I thought I could show them in practice that I deserved to be out there but it didn’t happen that way.
TPP: How tough is it to come in on the first day of camp to that realization that, oh boy, here we go again? How do you keep yourself up?
Taylor: It wasn’t that hard because it was the first day and I thought that maybe by the end, I could show them that I belong to be out there. It seemed like no matter what I was doing on the practice court, I wasn’t going to play. That’s what it seemed like to me.
TPP: I have watched some YouTube clips of you – you are definitely a slasher and a dunker. Do you consider yourself more of a raw scorer or do you think you can be a shooter in this league as well?
Taylor: Yes, I can most definitely be a shooter. I just don’t shoot because there hasn’t been too many people who can stop me from getting to the rim. In college, I was forced to shoot jump shots and I shot, what, 40%. I have three point records at my college, so I can shoot the ball, I just choose to take it to the rack and get fouled, but if someone stops me or they clog the paint up and I have to shoot it then I’m real comfortable shooting it.
TPP: Where are you at as a defensive player?
Taylor: I admit, in college, I wasn’t a defensive player. I saved myself for offense, always. To get into this league, you have to play defense. I have all the tools to play, I’m athletic, I get down, I’m competitive and I think that’s all you need to be a good defensive player. I’m getting better. I don’t want to say I’m the best, but I’m not a bad defender.
TPP: Do you prefer the two or the three or do you think they are interchangeable?
Taylor: It doesn’t matter. On the teams I’ve played for, they are pretty interchangeable.
TPP: You averaged 26 points a game as a senior in college. What kind of scorer can you be in the NBA?
Taylor: The same kind. I have a knack for getting to the rim. If I’m not scoring by shooting or if I can’t get to the rim, I can score in other ways- fast breaks, getting out in transition, getting a rebound, snatching it and going back up. Scoring in different ways.
TPP: Who do you think your game resembles or who do you model your game after?
Taylor: I really don’t know, but I’ve heard in the past that I remind people of Dwyane Wade when he first came in the league, but I think that is because we are the same size and we both have that scoring mentality. Just raw talent.
Taylor is a very confident young guy. He’s not obnoxiously confident, just a guy who knows he can score. Coming out of the University of Central Florida, Taylor measured at 6′-4.75″ with an impressive 6′-8.75″ wingspan to go with a 37.5″ max vertical. He is an elite athlete who plays well above the rim, which the Kings haven’t really had in a long time. Hopefully we will get a chance to see Jermaine Taylor and Pooh Jeter put on a fast breaking, high flying show off the bench for the Kings sometime in the near future.