Saturday, December 4, 2021

NBA offers little in development for Marcus Taylor

Dear Marcus Taylor,

I know we’ve both heard speculation about your future at MSU. And while you might be considering leaving school early for the NBA, I ask you to stay put.

This isn’t for my benefit, really - it’s for your own good.

I understand why entering the NBA Draft might sound like a good idea to you. You’d be getting paid handsomely for doing what you love.

It could be a life of Bentleys, women, big houses and possibly superstardom. You’d travel to Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, New York and, best of all, my hometown, Chicago.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Yeah it does, but trust me, now is not the time.

You had a great year, especially late in February and in March when you worked your way on top of the Big Ten scoring and assists lists. But you have to admit there were more than a couple of times when you didn’t play as well as you’re capable of.

I almost feel like an emergency room doctor, yelling “No! It’s not your time yet!” at you. But it really isn’t.

First of all, do you think your game is at an NBA level?

You can score off the dribble, at the foul-line or with a spot-up jump shot. You headed the Spartans’ fast break pretty well this season - a big reason you got to play in March.

But, honestly, for as far along as you are, you could be a lot better. You could add more consistency shooting the ball. Your 5-for-22 game from the field in the 69-58 loss to North Carolina State proves you need to be steadier.

And do you really want to leave on such a sour note?

Another year or two at MSU would give you the chance to shine even more as a go-to guy. Almost single-handedly, you led the charge late in the season to make us believe the team could be dangerous.

And with you back in green and white next season, you make me believe the Spartans could be lethal.

You could lead MSU back to the top spot in the Big Ten, back to the Final Four and back to overall excellence. It won’t be easy of course, but you’ve got a lot of help on the way in the form of next year’s stacked recruiting class.

Plus, you would develop more as a college player than you would as an NBA rookie. I mean, have you ever seen footage from an NBA practice? Playing H-O-R-S-E with Rick Brunson and Chris Dudley can’t really masquerade as “player development.”

Why leave now, especially with an excellent stable of guards on their way to the NBA this year? It just doesn’t make sense.

Marcus, people love to compare you with your fellow Lansing-native Earvin “Magic” Johnson. It’s undoubtedly a compliment, but if you stay you could make more of a name for yourself.

One or two more years at school give you the chance to be one of the most memorable guards in school history, right up there with Scott Skiles, Magic, Mateen Cleaves - you name it.

The NBA would want you, most likely, to play shooting guard. At 6-foot-3, they’d ask you to match up with players 2, 3 or 4 inches taller than you.

And you only have to look a few years back on the Spartan basketball family tree to see the success, or lack thereof, of undersized shooting guards in the league. If you do this you’ll see the name Shawn Respert.

Right now, there’s no guarantee where you’d get picked, and would you really want to be the 11th or 12th man on a talented NBA roster?

I, more than anyone else, would love to see another Spartan in the NBA. I’d eagerly anticipate you matching up with Golden State or Toronto to see you square off with Jason Richardson and Morris Peterson.

Who knows, maybe even against Cleaves.

Marcus, you’re a smart guy, and you should know that your NBA dreams can be put on hold.

The league isn’t going anywhere, and Marcus, neither should you.

Sincerely,

Dan Woike

Dan Woike, a men’s basketball reporter, can be reached at woikedan@msu.edu.

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