Becoming a successful NBA player isn't easy, and it got all that more difficult for Tyshawn Taylor this offseason.
The Nets signed Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson, and acquired Jason Terry through a trade, all of whom are capable of playing point guard.
I spoke with Taylor today after practice about his time with the Nets ... and Springfield Armor. Taylor said that he was fine with the team acquiring talented players, and he is open to returning to Springfield this season. "I think it was good for me to go down there (Springfield) and find myself and find my game," Taylor said, "It's great motivation for me to get down there and to get better."
Taylor is a team-first guy and knows what it is like to make sacrifices. He has been a winner his whole life, from an undefeated season at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City under renowned head coach Bobby Hurley, to the FIBA U-19 World Cup, where he won a championship, to Kansas where he and Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks to the National Championship game in 2012, to here with the Nets, a team striving for a championship.
"Being on a team that is as deep as this one, with these caliber of players, I'm playing a position that is so deep I might have to be sent down," Taylor said, "It's not a demotion, it's not a bad thing, it's just a way for me to get better."
Taylor was in the midst of contending for consideration to be the backup point guard this season. Reports on his training camp were definitely positive, but an ankle injury in the Nets second preseason game against the Detroit Pistons hurt his chances. Taylor knows he may have missed his chance on receiving an extended amount of minutes after Shaun Livingston had a fine preseason.
"Shaun played great throughout the preseason and he put himself in position where he looks good and it's hard to not play him." He continued, "I just want to put myself in a position where I can compete for some minutes." Taylor used today as a great example for the position he is in, "You know Shaun sat out today (with a stiff neck, not expected to be serious), and Deron hasn't been practicing all the time, so days like this are times for me to take advantage of getting all the reps at the point guard spot."
There is no denying Taylor's athletic gifts. The Kansas graduate is lightening fast and loves to push the pace, which could benefit him with a coach that has said he wants to pick up the tempo this season. Taylor believes that he could get some time with Williams or Livingston due to their versatility, "I think with their size (Williams and Livingston) and versatility, that could open up some time for me at the point, and all three of us could push the tempo and either run the wing or the point."
Taylor is still young (23), and has plenty of time to improve on all facets of his game. One component of his game that he believes will be key is his shooting. He is aware that this team has a bunch of great passers and he will need to come in the game and hit all the open looks his teammates are going to get him. So, becoming a knock-down shooter is an integral part of his repertoire.
Taylor also noted that it has been a great experience having "one of the best point guards to ever play in Jason Kidd coach me, and possibly another one playing against me every day." Taylor believes Kidd has had a great influence on the teams' defensive mentality and their ball movement. "With as much talent as we got, sharing the ball has to be important. It's a lot of guys who have been the man in their careers, and now all of them just sharing the ball makes us dangerous."
As noted, Taylor is an incredible athlete. He is so quick and agile that he tends to play at a rapid pace, a pace so fast that YES Network commentator Ryan Ruocco calls him, "why not?" Taylor believes that nickname is "creative, I like it. I like where it comes from and where he got that from."
Looking ahead, Taylor thinks this team has the potential to be special, noting that there haven't been any chemistry issues and doesn't expect any. "Guys just want to win here. When you have a bunch of really talented players who all have the same goal in mind, we leave the ego's at the door and get ready to play." In terms of a championship, Taylor says that is the goal, but they aren't looking ahead.
"We come here every day and we work, we don't think anything is going to be given to us," Taylor said, "Our aspirations are definitely a championship, but we're in a conference that got better this summer, but we are all excited and willing to put in the work to get that championship."
Tyshawn Taylor is, however, an enigma. He is unpredictable when he is on the floor. With that being said, he is still a raw player that the Nets believe in. He was high on the Nets draft night board, and General Manager Billy King said, "We have been trying to get a young point guard that we can groom down the road and with his pedigree and the big games he's played, we felt he'd be good.
What gives Taylor a future in this league, though, is his work ethic. He was one of the final players to leave the floor today at shootaround working out with coach John Welch, and stays true to his game.
"As a winner my whole life, I bring that mentality with me here every day, and I think the fact that we could win right now is what keeps me motivated."