Jeffery Taylor, No. 23 (Mock)
The hard-working small forward provides good value for the Hawks.
by DeMarco Williams / @demarcowill
Depending on where you’re sitting at Philips Arena, the fact that the Atlanta Hawks will have just six players (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams and ZaZa Pachulia) under contract on July 1 can be deemed a good thing or a bad one. It’s good that your core remains intact, meaning you already know where most of your 2012-13 production is coming. It’s bad in the sense that this core is the central reason the franchise has seemingly been stuck in neutral the past few years.
But that may not be the case much longer. The perennial Eastern Conference also-rans added new General Manager Danny Ferry this morning, who will (hopefully) spark some energy into the team by making smart free-agent signings, keeping JSmoove happy and picking wisely on draft night.
With the 23rd pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Atlanta Hawks select…
Jeffery Taylor from Vanderbilt University.
On a roster with all sorts of question marks, the small forward position is one of the biggest. The only eye-popping numbers associated with incumbent Marvin Williams are the ones his contract. Williams took home $8.2 million last year. He’s guaranteed another $7.5 million this coming season. The other numbers affixed to his name (10 points, five boards and 1 assist per game in ’11-12) are, well, pretty damn depressing.
Baylor forward Quincy Miller would have been a solid choice for the No. 23 pick, but his lack of toughness and health history are troubling. Michigan State stud Draymond Green could have been an outside-the-box selection here, too. But something about the 22-year-old already feels like he’s reached his peak.
That’s why Taylor is the best remaining option at the three hole. Love his promise. Love his hops. Love his work ethic. Love the fact that his numbers with the Commodores got increasingly better every season. Taylor was an All-SEC freshman team selection in ’08. By the time he graduated (yep, Jeff was a four-year starter), he had matured into an All-SEC first-teamer, finishing second on the team in scoring last year while joining the school’s all-time top-10 in career rebounds, steals, FTs made and attempted.
Detractors of the 6-7, 225-pound do-everything prospect will argue that the young man’s game, especially in pressure-packed contests, gets lost at times. And you know what? A 10-point/3-rebound average over this past March’s postseason action is somewhat suspect, but the smart kid is ripe for NBA guidance. Hawks head coach Larry Drew and his assistants will work on Taylor’s confidence, tighten up his footwork and questionable dribbling, and get him to solidify a 12-foot jumper.
Notice how I didn’t mention anything about defense in that last sentence? No need to. Taylor’s D is already close to an A. And with that worry off Smith and Horford’s hands, they won’t have to consistently leave their men to help on double teams. Couple that positional relief with 10 points, 2 assists and a few all-out hustle plays every night and you have yourself a solid player who makes the mistake of Marvin Williams’ $7.5 million salary a little easier to digest.