Second-year guard eager to show coach Kidd he can run the show
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
While Jason Kidd was earning his first unofficial technical foul during his Summer League coaching debut, and Mason Plumlee was throwing down a series of emphatic dunks, Tyshawn Taylor was quietly making an important point of his own: That the Brooklyn Nets' coveted backup point guard spot was his to lose this coming season.
"I think that's one of my main focuses, showing that I can run a team and get my teammates involved," Taylor, entering his second season with the Nets, said after putting up 17 points and committing six turnovers in his Summer League debut last Sunday in Orlando, Fla., as Brooklyn kicked off its exhibition slate with a 76-67 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Taylor, who spent most of his rookie campaign watching from the bench as Deron Williams and C.J. Watson filled the point-guard spot, is eager to prove he can be Williams' No. 1 backup come November, especially after Watson agreed to a two-year deal with Indiana. The Nets have already brought in veteran point man Shaun Livingston to compete with Taylor for minutes next season.
That means Taylor, who logged just over five minutes per night in 38 games for Brooklyn last year, will have to show Kidd he is capable of upping his game during this five-day sojourn to the Sunshine State.
The speedy 6-foot-3 playmaker out of the University of Kansas certainly didn't take long to show improvement, putting up a game-high 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting and draining 10-of-11 free throws against the Heat Monday as the Nets dropped a 93-86 decision to Miami.
Kidd, just cutting his teeth on the bench, as evidenced by his tech-inducing, moving-past-half-court transgression in Sunday's debut, took note of Taylor's impressive performance, which also included three steals and three assists.
"We talked about [his aggressiveness Sunday], and I thought his effort was there in terms of making plays for his teammates," Kidd said. "Guys aren't going to make every shot, but they were more relaxed [Monday and he] made more shots. At the defensive end, we gave up too many points, but we can work on that."
When he wasn't in Brooklyn last season, Taylor was balling for the Nets' NBDL affiliate in Springfield, Mass.
But the time he spent chronicling the actions of Williams and Watson proved most valuable to the Hoboken, N.J., native in his steady progression toward regular playing time on the NBA circuit.
"I think being around the team that I was around all of last year and watching great basketball all year behind D. Will and C.J. has helped me a great deal," Taylor noted. "I still have a lot to learn."
The man in charge of teaching Taylor the ins and outs of point guard play logged 19 Hall of Fame seasons, finished second all-time in assists and grabbed an NBA title and two Olympic gold medals during his illustrious career.
"I'm a huge fan of coach Kidd," Taylor gushed. " I've been watching him since I'm a little kid, but I've definitely gone on YouTube and checked him out. I just want to show my coaching staff that I can be a point guard, put pressure on the defense, be a lock-down defender or be a decent one anyway."
As Kidd navigates his way around the bench instead of the more familiar hardwood, ceding play-drawing duties to top assistant Lawrence Frank for now, Taylor is hoping to show the 40-year-old coaching neophyte that the Nets' offense will be safe in his hands.
"This is a new situation for him, he's kind of learning as he goes too," Taylor said of Kidd. "I think he's going to do a great job. He was positive the whole game. That helps us keep a positive attitude to come out and play hard."
"There's some things that we have to clean up as a whole," added Kidd. "I understand the quicker I can get [the information] to my point guard, the quicker he can get it to his guys."
Hoop du Jour: Plumlee built on a strong Summer debut (double-double vs. the Pistons) by scoring 23 points and ripping down nine boards Monday against the Heat before the Nets' day off Tuesday. "As the coaches are saying, we're all learning," said the Duke alum, who spent the previous four years under the tutelage of legendary Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I love Coach K, and I love Coach Kidd. It sounds funny to say that, but they're learning us; we're learning the game; we're learning each other. It's not easy, but I think we're doing a better job. With the off day [Tuesday], by our next game we should be a lot better." ... ''It happens,'' Kidd said of his first technical, which occured with just over two minutes remaining in the Nets' opener Sunday. ''I learned quickly where the coaching box is. I've seen some coaches on the other end of the floor, so I can't follow their lead.'' Kidd hasn't been shy about letting his players, and the media, know that his trial-by-fire on the sidelines is one he is still settling into. ''This is training ground for every one - officials, coaches, players,'' said Kidd. ''We're all trying to get better. I will lean on my staff,'' Kidd said. ''Every one of the coaches will bring something to the table.'' ... After losing out on the chance to sign sharp-shooting Kyle Korver to Atlanta, the Nets quickly inked Bojan Bogdanovich, their former second-round pick in 2011, to a three-year deal. Bogdanovich has been starring on Turkish club Fenerbahce the past two years. ... The Nets also announced over the weekend that they have promoted Frank Zanin to assistant general manager, where he will work alongside GM Billy King, as well as fellow assistant Bobby Marks. The Nets also promoted Matt Riccardi to Basketball Operations Manager and Sean Sweeney to Video Operations Manager. Scott Sereday will be the team's Statistical Analyst and Brennan Blair is now the Video Coordinator.