Former Clipper Mike Taylor, First D-League Player Drafted by NBA, Returns to Roots
Taylor, a 6-foot-2 guard, played for the Idaho Stampede during the 2007-08 season and then was drafted with the 55th overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft that summer. This marked the first time a player from the NBA Development League had made the jump to the NBA via the draft.
Taylor's basketball career started out rocky as he played two seasons at Chipola Junior College, transferred to Iowa State for his junior year and then, after being dismissed from the Cyclones basketball program despite being the team's leading scorer, he elected to play in the D-League with hopes of entering the NBA Draft.
Taylor was picked up by the Idaho Stampede early in the season and averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists as the team's sixth man. Taylor was the backup point guard to current Stampede head coach Randy Livingston on a team that also boasted former/future NBA players Josh McRoberts, Mickael Gelabale, Taurean Green, Luke Jackson, Lance Allred and Mouhamed Sene. The Stampede won the D-League's championship that season with Taylor hitting four 3-pointers in the deciding game on his way to his 11th 20-plus point game.
Following his successful D-League season, Taylor piqued the Clippers' interest enough to trade their second-round pick in the next draft to the Blazers in order to select Taylor with the 55th selection, thus ensuring they would have his rights in what would surely have been a bidding war that summer for the potential-laden guard. In 51 games for the Clippers, including five starts, Taylor averaged 5.7 points and 2.1 assists in just over 15 minutes of action.
Taylor's best game in the NBA was a 35-point outburst against the New York Knicks on March 25, 2009, when Taylor hit 14-of-20 from the field while also grabbing eight rebounds, dishing three assists and picking up two steals for good measure.
Taylor went to camp with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, but after failing to make the opening-day roster, he chose to play in Serbia with Crvena Zvezda. Taylor played well in Europe, averaging 11.3 points while making 54 percent of his three-point attempts in Eurocup play, but has been on the sidelines since sustaining an injury last March that resulted in a legal battle with the club.
Apparently healthy now, Taylor has opted to sign with the D-League in hopes of making enough noise for the last 20 or so games of the season to earn another chance at playing in the NBA. Taylor will find out which team he'll be playing for once he clears waivers Friday afternoon (along with fellow NBA call-up prospect Steve Novak).
If Taylor is able to show off the scoring instincts that allowed him to be drafted in the first place -- along with a bit of maturity that should have come with the European experience -- there's a good chance his NBA dream could once again become a reality through the D-League.