Ryan Taylor committed to Northwestern in April 2018, choosing the Wildcats over Indiana, Oregon and Miami. The 6-foot-6 guard was expected by many to be a volume scorer an Evanston. At Evansville, Taylor averaged a conference best 21.2 points per game on an impressive 42 percent from three. It’s safe to say his Northwestern career paled in comparison to his time with the Purple Aces, as he averaged just 9.8 points on 33.3 percent from deep during his brief stint with the Wildcats.
The following numbers are taken from KenPom.com
Comparing Taylor’s stats at Evansville to Northwestern is frustrating. The most obvious explanation for his decrease in productivity is the difference in the level of play between the Big Ten and the Missouri Valley Conference. Still, one would have expected Taylor to at least adjust somewhat well given how effortlessly his scoring came with the Purple Aces.
The most disappointing part of Taylor’s season was his three-point shooting. He shot just 33 percent from deep, which was the second lowest of his career behind only the 28.9 percent he shot as a freshman at Ohio University. Taylor’s lack of production was not a result of bashfulness: he averaged 5.8 three-point attempts per game, which was the most on the team. It’s hard to explain why Taylor was unable to make shots consistently. His shot mechanics are nearly impeccable and he got a lot of open looks, but the ball often just refused to go in.
A whopping 91.7 percent of Taylor’s threes were assisted. This number alone helps explain his underwhelming season. The graduate transfer struggled to get it going in large part because he didn’t have a point guard to create consistent off the catch looks - when he got them, he often knocked them down. Still, it’s hard to attribute the entirety of his mediocre year to not having a viable shot creator alongside him. Another frustrating part about Taylor was his unwillingness to drive to the basket. His athleticism, which he displayed defensively at times, was significant enough that he should have attempted more than 8.2 percent of his shots at the rim.
The Georgia Tech game was a high point for Taylor. He scored 20 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three against the Yellow Jackets, leading to one of the better offensive performances of the year for Northwestern (at least for the first 30 minutes). The Wildcats looked so good that Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner called them a tournament team postgame. Pastner couldn’t have been more wrong, but the fact that he even thought it speaks to how differently the season could’ve gone had Taylor been more consistent.
Much of Taylor’s shortcomings have already been pointed out. His presence on the floor diminished as the season went on. He seemed contempt to lethargically move off the ball and shoot it if he was open. He also struggled defensively, consistently getting burned by those he guarded. Occasionally he’d recover for a block at the rim, but for the most part Taylor was a significant liability as a perimeter defender.
Every team has room for a shooter. That’s good news for Taylor. His size and shooting ability will allow him to play professionally. He will likely find himself overseas where there is good money and high level of competition. If he begins to shoot the deep ball consistently again maybe he could even find his way onto a G-League roster. It’s hard to see a scenario, though, in which Taylor makes it to the NBA.