Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap was quick to praise rookie Jeff Taylor’s defense, and it’s worth praising given his average of 1.2 steals per game. That total is tied for third among the team leaders, but it goes beyond the statistics. With his strength and intelligence, Taylor is a good lockdown defensive player and Dunlap even went as far as to compare him to Bruce Bowen.
The coach said, “The league is finding out he is a very, very good defender. The bonus is he’s coming faster on offense than any of us thought. He’s making some more corner 3s, and he has a penetration game that will come. He’s just not always sure when to (drive), and I get that. He’s a really fierce competitor and he’s here to stay.’’
Taylor played in 33 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers and put up 16 points (6-10) and a steal in another efficient performance. He is shooting 40% from three-point range and has been a steal as a rookie out of Vanderbilt. The toughness on defense that he should while playing for the Dores has come to the forefront for the Bobcats, and it also helps that he has a calm personality.
Gerald Henderson is getting closer to his return to the team, and it will be interesting to see how that affects Taylor’s playing time. The rookie brings the Bobcats a great mix of youth, pinpoint shooting, and good defense in a league where those three qualities are at a premium. The Bobcats will need to keep giving Taylor solid minutes in order to allow to continue to develop, but it won’t come at the expense of Henderson’s minutes. The solid-scoring swingman should be able to return on Monday to play against the Portland Trail Blazers.
But man has Taylor’s emergence as a rookie been something to watch, and the Bobcats young core of Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeff Taylor is overflowing with potential.
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