Michael Scotto, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — The start of Tyshawn Taylor’s rookie season was unlike that of a typical NBA rookie. Taylor is a native of Hoboken, New Jersey and was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy during the storm and in the aftermath that followed.
“My home’s good, there’s no more flooding,” Taylor said before the Nets’ first game of the Brooklyn era. “We still don’t have power in the city of Hoboken, but my apartment luckily does. There’s just no hot water right now. I’m in a hotel in the city right now so I’m not going to go home for a while.”
Hurricane Sandy did damage to many parts of Northern New Jersey including East Rutherford—home of the Nets practice facility—and Hoboken, Taylor’s hometown. As a result, the Nets have held practices at Barclays Center, but on Oct. 31, the day after the storm hit, Taylor was stranded in Hoboken and couldn’t make it to Brooklyn.
Eventually, Taylor was able to get out but traveling the eight miles from Hoboken to Barclays Center was not an easy task. The road to practice remained a difficult journey and with severely limited mass transit options, Taylor was forced to drive on congested roads.
At the time, scores of gas stations in and around New York City were without electricity and, as a result, the city is still dealing with a very serious gas distribution problem. Though road conditions are improving, the immediate results were congested roads, delays and unsafe road conditions. Thousands of New Yorkers were trying to locate and successfully reach gas stations before their gas tanks hit “empty.”
“Gas is crazy right now,” said Taylor before the Nets Nov. 3 season opender against the Toronto Raptors. “I had to wait two hours and fifteen minutes for gas.”
Despite the hardships Hurricane Sandy caused to his hometown and family, Taylor remained excited for the start of his NBA career.
“As players, as fans, I think we’ve been waiting for the season to start to see what we’re going to bring as a team,” Taylor said while getting dressed in front of his locker. “With the hurricane, I think it’s just brings more anticipation to see how good we do and I think they’re really excited about it. We’re excited to play and perform for Brooklyn.”
Unfortunately for Taylor, he did not play in Brooklyn’s season opening victory against the Toronto Raptors, but he did make his debut when the Nets played the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 5.
The lack of playing time in the opener did not deter Taylor’s work ethic, though. He was on the court early before Brooklyn’s second game with coaches Mario Elie and Doug Overton. Taylor, Mirza Teletovic, Tornike Shengelia and Josh Childress all participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage before the game. They each needed to be ready in the event they were called upon.
The extra work paid off as Taylor made his NBA debut and scored his first points in the Nets second game of the season where they lost to the Timberwolves.
“I was just a little nervous,” said Taylor. “I think once you get up and down, or get a possession or two in, you just get back to being yourself and being comfortable and that’s exactly how I felt.”
Taylor has adjusted to his new role coming off the bench after playing a prominent role starting 127 out of a possible 146 games with the Kansas Jayhawks.
“I think that’s just part of my job, which is to stay ready,” said Taylor. “[Deron Williams] got two quick fouls so C.J. [Watson] had to play extended minutes in that first half. I just stood ready and when coach called my name I got in there and just did what he wanted me to, which is run the team and make easy plays.”
According to Taylor, much of the credit for his development this season will rest on conversations with Deron Williams and studying the tendencies of the two-time Olympic gold medalist.
“Me and Deron have been talking a lot and he’s just been schooling me,” said Taylor. “I just get the benefit of just watching him everyday and getting to go up against him everyday so that helps me even more than just him talking to me.”
Despite playing heavy minutes and being the face of the franchise, Williams has made it a point to talk with Taylor about the intricacies of the point guard position.
Taylor repeated Williams’ instructions.
“Just see the floor and slow my pace down a little bit and just take what comes to me,” he said.
Part of taking what comes Taylor’s way will be open jumpers. The rookie is making sure that if opposing defenses go under screens or otherwise leave him open, he’ll be able to make them pay.
“I’m working on my mid-range jumper and my long-range jumper,” he said. “I think with this team we have a lot of scoring threats so I’ve just got to stay ready and if I get open shots I’ve got to knock them down. But I think my job when I get in the game is to run the team, play defense, and not turn over the ball.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Taylor and those in his hometown of Hoboken hope he can light up the court as the season progresses.
Like his hometown in the aftermath of Sandy, Taylor is a work in progress that needs a bit more time. But like his hometown in the aftermath of Sandy, Taylor is improving rapidly.
One day at a time.
Michael Scotto is an Analyst for SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news from Brooklyn and the NBA: @MikeAScotto