Okay. It’s not worth playing the “what if” game with Jermaine Taylor. You do remember Jermaine Taylor, right?
Jump back to June 25, 2009, the night of the NBA Draft and “this guy’s” (me) birthday. Oh yea, Michael Jackson died that day too.
Draft night was a bit anti-climactic for Wizards fans. They were already having paper goodness dreams of Randy Foye and Mike Miller teaming up with the Big Three, et al., also knowing that there was no way fan draft darling Ricky Rubio could slip to the departed fifth pick. Oh, wait …
In any case, pick #32 was worth paying attention to. Would the crafty Ernie Grunfeld, a man seemingly able to load his team with win-in-the-now veterans and promising youth (now with fleeting promise), find another second round gem a la Michael Redd?
“Anything is possible!!” Grunfeld screamed from the draft war room. “Loading up the pump, I’m loading up the Uzis, I’ve got a couple of M-16s, couple of nines, couple of joints with some silencers on them, couple of grenades, got a missile launcher. I’m ready for war,” said Grunfeld, quoting Kevin Garnett under the tutelage of Flip Saunders. [Note: Grunfeld did not say any of this.]
And as the picks passed, DeJuan Blair became that “OMG HE’S SLIPPING!!” possibility. After the Sacramento Kings selected Jeff Pendergraph, Wizards fans began to lick their chops, rub their hands together, pat each other on the back, and light celebratory cigars. Time to emerge triumphantly from the bunker boys, one of the best rebounders in the history of college basketball, an area where the Wizards so desperately needed help, was right there for the taking.
Nope. Huh? GASP! Who the eff is Jermaine Taylor? … went the emotional progression.
By now you’ve done the math and have made all the recollections. Taylor is the guy the Wizards drafted then traded to the Houston Rockets for $2.5 million cash. And yes, at the time I kinda argued that it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But screw that in this day of hindsight, obviously.
I still did want Blair and I was left disappointed. Those blasted, pesky San Antonio Spurs took Blair instead.
But back to Taylor … on March 18th, for the third time this season, he was assigned to Houston’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. But on Saturday against the Lakers, Taylor, back in the NBA, made his first career start for the Rockets, and is believed to be the first player ever from the University of Central Florida to start in an NBA game.
In 30 minutes of action, Taylor scored 15 points, snagged five rebounds and dropped three assists to only one turnover. Taylor also played some very physical defense against Kobe Bryant. Check out this breakdown of his highlights from the ESPN TrueHoop Network Rocket blog, Red 94.
Damn. I already like this guy’s game much more than Nick Young’s. In 221 career games, Young has only achieved five or more rebounds along with three or more assists once. Taylor did it in just his 24th game, his first time playing more than 25 minutes. Young has played more than 25 minutes about 46 times in his career.
Young has also never gone to war on defense … diving on the floor for a loose ball a couple times doesn’t count.
So as the Wizards get set to face the Rockets in Houston at 8:30 pm est, gunning for loss #16 in a row, if Kevin Martin is out tonight, Taylor will likely once again start in his place, and probably will play just a bit harder against the team that drafted then sold him.
Sure, as stated, it’s not worth getting caught up in the “what ifs” of Taylor. If the Wizards had elected to keep the pick, they likely wouldn’t have selected someone of his basketball position. And just like Alonzo Gee, Taylor’s chance of solidifying as an NBA player is a big unknown.
Still, one can only hope that Taylor gets matched-up against Young. It’ll be about as bastardly intriguing as it gets for Wizards fans.
Wonder if Houston resident Mike James will be at the game. Maybe some of the $2.5 million the Wiz got for Taylor went toward buying him out.