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Projecting Ryan Taylor’s impact on Northwestern’s rotation

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The talented grad transfer will play — and score — immediately.

@ryan_413 | Instagram

Ryan Taylor isn’t a traditional graduate transfer. He wasn’t a once heralded recruit that, for three years, competed for playing time at a power conference school. He isn’t a mid-major player looking to make a name for himself in pursuit of a professional basketball career. When the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 21.3 points per game and shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc last season, he already did that.

Ryan Taylor also isn’t the traditional Northwestern basketball player. He’s a high-volume scorer that poured in nearly one-third of Evansville’s points per game last season, both of which would have led Northwestern last season. Consequently, Taylor is a high-volume shooter that embraced his role as the go-to scorer for the Aces last season. For reference, Scottie Lindsey’s 29.5 percentage of shots taken pales in comparison to Taylor’s nation-leading 40.7 percent. Taylor will be asked to get buckets next season to a lesser extent. Starved for scoring, Northwestern had to find at least another 33 points per game with the departures of Lindsey, Bryant McIntosh and Gavin Skelly. It needed Ryan Taylor.

The Taylor-and-Lindsey comparisons don’t stop there. Our own Will Ragatz took a deeper look.

Lindsey vs. Taylor

Stat Scottie Lindsey Ryan Taylor
Stat Scottie Lindsey Ryan Taylor
%Min 80.6 73
ORating 104.1 98.8
%Possessions 24.8 31.2
%Shots 29.5 40.7
Effective FG% 49.2 49.9
True Shooting% 52.3 53.3
Offensive Reb% 2.7 1.8
Defensive Reb% 12.2 11.3
Assist rate 12.2 9.6
TO rate 12.6 12.6
Block% 1.7 0.9
Steal% 0.8 1.4
Fouls Called/40min 3.1 2.6
Fouls Drawn/40min 3.5 4.6
FTA/FGA 19.2 19.2
FT % 82.5 86.4
%Shots at rim 20 11.6
FG% at rim 58.8 58.5
%Shots non-rim 2's 28.5 53.9
Non-rim 2pt% 33.1 39.3
%Shots 3pt 51.4 34.5
3pt% 36.2 42.4

“As this comparison shows, Lindsey and Taylor had very similar seasons in 2017-18. Both are athletic wings who got plenty of shots up and didn’t do much else, perhaps because they weren’t asked to. But there are a few notable differences. Taylor, as the go-to guy whenever he was on the floor, operated at an even higher volume than Lindsey, and with a different shot distribution. 54 percent of Taylor’s attempts came from the midrange, compared to just 28.5 percent for Lindsey. So even though Taylor shot a notably better percentage from both midrange and beyond the arc than Lindsey, their effective field goal and true shooting percentages were the same because so many more of Lindsey’s shot attempts were threes. If Taylor can just put together a Lindsey-esque season, he will be a great addition to a team that has plenty of wings but still needed scoring and shot-creating. But if Taylor cuts down on midrange jumpers and focuses more on shots at the rim and from deep – and potentially benefits from having more talent around him than he did last season – his efficiency and effectiveness could grow beyond Lindsey’s level.” - Will Ragatz

Chris Collins will immediately insert Taylor into the starting lineup. A 12.6 turnover rate (compared to a 9.6 assist rate) likely relegates Taylor from being the lead guard, but he’ll slide nicely into the two-guard or small forward position alongside Vic Law and Dererk Pardon. Collins has newfound flexibility with his lineup. For example, Taylor’s scoring and shooting prowess should play nicely alongside the slashing-style of Anthony Gaines. Taylor will be able to alleviate the pressure on Jordan Ash and Jordan Lathon by assuming the role of a secondary ball-handler. More importantly, however, the addition of Taylor likely keeps an inexperienced freshman from being rushed into meaningful minutes. It’s impossible to measure the magnitude the Gary, In. native will have on his new team, as well as the impact playing alongside more talented teammates will have on him, but Taylor’s floor seems to be what Lindsey was last season. And as Will mentioned, his potential ceiling is higher.

Barring the addition of a graduate transfer (Northwestern - and half the country - is still in on Matt Mooney), this is what the rotation will look like next season.

Point (Lead) Guard: Jordan Lathon, Jordan Ash

Wing One and Wing Two: Vic Law, Ryan Taylor, Anthony Gaines, A.J. Turner, Miller Kopp

Stretch Forward (Four): Pete Nance, Aaron Falzon

Center: Dererk Pardon, Barret Benson, Ryan Young

Taylor heard from at least nine 2018 NCAA Tournament teams and a host of Big Ten foes before choosing to play his final year of eligibility at Northwestern. Ultimately, he decided between Northwestern, Miami, Oregon and Indiana. “The connections that I made with Coach Collins, the staff and the players made me want to come here,” Taylor told InsideNU. On his visit to Evanston last weekend, Taylor got to visit the new athletic facilities, including a tour of Welsh-Ryan Arena. “It’s going to be really nice when they finish it,” he noted. He will enroll in a one-year master’s program at Northwestern.

The 2018-19 team will look nothing like the one that skidded to a 15-17 season. Ash, Law, Turner, Pardon, Benson, Charlie Hall and Tino Malnati are the last vestiges of the historic NCAA Tournament run from one year ago. Hungry to once again play meaningful basketball in March, this team will be different. The coaching staff will be different. The stadium will be different. A two-time transfer, Taylor is fine with that. He’s used to change. Now, he’s changing the trajectory of Northwestern’s 2018-19 season.