Taylor is starting to make an impression
Involvement in all of the Clippers’ 13 fastbreak points against the Utah Jazz on Saturday was enough to earn rookie point guard Mike Taylor his first regular-season NBA start.
Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy had been gradually increasing Taylor’s role though the first three games and upped it another notch at Staples Center on Monday night against Utah.
Taylor’s partner in the backcourt, Cuttino Mobley, was talking before the game about the new faces and didn’t hesitate when asked who has surprised him the most.
Taylor, hands down.
“He does a lot of different things,” Mobley said. “I like him because I was second-round [in the draft] and he was second-round. They gave him a chance and he’s proven himself. He’s going to have a long career.”
Taylor said Dunleavy told him at practice Sunday that he would start Monday night. He had 13 points in 33 minutes Saturday at Utah, both season highs.
“I like him,” said Clippers forward Al Thornton. “He’s very energetic. Like I always say, he’s a one-man press. Sometimes he needs to slow down, but I think he’s going to be OK.”
Taylor said he had a feeling the Clippers were going to trade for him on draft day this year, which they did, with Portland. He hit it off with Dunleavy when he worked out for the Clippers.
“I felt like it was the best workout I had. I felt like I wanted to be in this situation. I liked Dunleavy as a person, as a coach,” Taylor said. “He told me my past was the past and just build on working on your future. I respected that a lot.”
When you’re a much-traveled point guard, it helps to have a sense of humor. Utah’s Brevin Knight, a former Clipper, was asked whether it was special to play against his old pals Saturday.
“I have got a lot of old mates to play against,” he said, laughing. “All the teams I’ve been on.”
Said Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson, on Saturday: “He’s really good for our team because he brought a whole bunch of experience and he’s a true point guard. He’s not a converted point guard. The first game he really struggled, but this game I thought he showed what he can do.”