Isaiah Taylor of the Hawks drives against Markelle Fultz of the 76ers at Philips Arena on March 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hawks player season review: Isaiah Taylor

The Hawks signed point guard Isaiah Taylor in October, after he played only four games with the Rockets in 2016-17. Soon Taylor was playing regular minutes for coach Mike Budenholzer, who urged Taylor to be more aggressive on offense and use his speed to get to the rim. 

Eventually Taylor embraced that challenge. He played 1,167 minutes for the Hawks, and in his view, proved that he belongs in the NBA. 

“All facts,” Taylor said after the season ended. 

I wouldn’t go quite that far, but, as I wrote not long ago: “There are enough positives in Taylor’s game to make him a decent prospect: the rim attacking, the defense, the pushes in transition, and the playmaking. With improvement, he could turn out to be a solid backup point guard even as the Hawks (theoretically) transition to winning more games.” 

Taylor’s value going forward likely depends largely on his ability to develop a consistent jump shot. This season Taylor was a high-volume rim attacker with decent accuracy at that range and great foul-drawing ability. But he was a very inefficient scorer because he shot poor percentages from everywhere except near the basket. 

Taylor’s 43.4 effective field-goal percentage (non-garbage time) ranked in the ninth percentile among combo guards, per Cleaning the Glass. He ranked in the 26th percentile or lower in accuracy from the short midrange, long midrange and 3-point line. Taylor made just 20 of 80 3-point attempts (25 percent), and opponents increasingly conceded 3’s to him while focusing on keeping him away from the basket. 

Taylor’s speed allowed him to get into the paint for runners but, according to Synergy Sports, he scored just 0.55 points per possession on those plays while making 27 percent of 78 attempts (27 percent). That’s a tough shot for smaller players to make consistently, so it’s likely that the more plausible way for Taylor to improve his scoring efficiency is to develop a reliable jump shot. 

Taylor said that will be his focus this summer. 

“I think if I’m hitting a consistent jump shot I’ll be tough to guard,” Taylor said. 

On defense, Taylor didn’t provide much production in blocks or steals and he had a high foul rate. However, Synergy data rated Taylor as a good pick-and-roll defender. And the Hawks were 3.7 per 100 possessions better on defense with Taylor on the court, and that trend held across six of the seven most-used lineups that included Taylor (with alignments including both him and Malcolm Delaney as particularly effective). 

Taylor is under contract for next season at $1.5 million with two guarantee money dates this summer: one the day after the draft for $300,000 and the rest in July. Depending on what the Hawks do in the draft, I think there’s a decent chance Taylor returns.

Previous Hawks player season reviews

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010. 
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