After a bit of time to allow the 2017-2018 season to breathe, there are a number of on-court questions to answer and, in this space over the next few days, the Peachtree Hoops staff will spring into action to tackle them. In our sixth edition, our staff weighs in on the future of Taurean Prince with an eye toward takeaways from the past year.
Brad Rowland: This is a very tough question because, well, it would be a surprise if Prince’s role in the future was similar to the one we witnessed down the stretch of the 2017-2018 season. At this point in his development, Prince is well ahead of any offensive projection I had for him as a draft prospect and well behind any defensive projection. In the future, any discussion of Prince and his profile centers on whether he will be willing to get back to the defensive intensity he displayed at times as a rookie. If that arrives, he has the physical tools to be solid on that end of the floor and, given what we’ve seen offensively, that is a wildly intriguing player. Ultimately, Prince being asked to carry a large offensive workload (especially as a creator) this season could be good for his development but he is still better cast as a supporting piece in that regard. If the shooting is real, that is a fantastic start and Prince’s ability to score in other ways has been intriguing at the very least. He’ll need to grow as a passer and decision-maker but, if the defense rebounds from an ugly showing this year, he has the profile of a highly valuable starter on the wing.
Jeff Siegel: The Taurean Prince we saw over the last month of the season is not at all what I expect from him in the future. He was incredible as a primary scorer and shooter for the Hawks late in the season, but his role on a good team is much closer to Otto Porter than it is Bradley Beal. I don’t believe in his playmaking developing well enough to be a high-level secondary ball handler, but the three-point shot looks to be real, which will always give him a role in the league. If the defensive effort picks up as the team improves in the next few years, then he’ll be the 3-and-D wing every team needs. I think that’s his realistic ceiling.
Graham Chapple: Haha. I’m lower on Prince than most people are but I think he can certainly be a steady contributor for a team. I think these last few months have exaggerated what he can do/his ceiling. I strongly believe he’s not a franchise player nor is he the second best player on a 50 win team -- I just don’t see it, not while his defense lags this far behind his offense. What we saw from Prince the last stretch of the season was encouraging but not truly reflective of what his role will be in regular circumstances, as both Schroder and Bazemore sat out the latter part of the season. People will rave about how he ended the season but will forget the two/three week stretch in January when he was absolutely brutal. Selective memory...
He definitely has promising potential as a spot-up shooter (and he can certainly carve out a good role for his NBA career if he can continue to shoot the ball as he did this season) but is best when he catches and shoots rather than tries to go off of the dribble or pulls up. Time will tell if that three-point shooting was just a one-off season occurrence or for real. It could be his calling card for all we know. I do worry how much more he can develop, so I’m looking forward to seeing if Prince has more in the locker or if what we see in Prince is what we get -- some players peak early in terms of development.
Glen Willis: A good player when in the right role on a good team. I believe in his shot because his mechanics were greatly improved from last season to this season. And the league still craves wings that can make an impact on both ends of the court. On a good team, he is likely to play off of the ball more than being involved in the primary action offensively. With some additional improvement it’s not impossible that he might become good enough to help run a second unit offense from time to time. But the best version of Prince’s potential future self would be offering stronger play on the defensive end of the court than on offense.
Greg Willis: Taurean Prince certainly showed explosiveness on the offensive end. What he did not show is progression in the finer points of the game that yield team success. His focus on defense was intermittent. A willingness to listen and learn seemed to evade him at times. While his shooting impressed, he was not particularly an efficient player. Prince had the type of season that projects more as a good player on a bad team than a strong contributor on a good team. I hope he trends in the right direction for the Hawks next season.
Sam Meredith: Taurean Prince is a confusing case. He is decent (or better) on the offensive end when not turning the ball over but was simply bad on the defensive end despite his imposing frame and athleticism. His catch and shoot three pointers are by far his biggest asset and he is only 23 so he could still get better on defense. If he shows improvement in his capacity to slow the game down and not commit turnovers in 2019, then the Hawks should be ecstatic. Until then, he’s a role player in his current state.
Xavier Cooper: I believe, at worst, Taurean Prince will be a player similar to Rudy Gay. At Prince’s best, I believe he could play at the level of a Paul George type. Towards the end of the season, he showed he could score 20+ a game pretty easily by being an efficient 3-point shooter. The one offensive area where Prince can improve on is his ball handling. This would allow him to make plays for himself and others. It is hard to tell what he’ll become because he’s still fairly young but this summer will be crucial for Prince.
Zach Hood: I see Prince as a solid starter down the road, a potential 3-and-D guy with ability to create some off the dribble and get 30 on any given night depending on the matchup. A good comparison for what I think he could become would be something between Robert Covington and Otto Porter. He has a really nice stroke from deep and while he probably doesn’t need to take 18 threes a game like he did in the Hawks’ final game of 2017-2018, I see him being a guy you can trust to guard a solid perimeter player while making near 40 percent of his threes on five or six attempts per game.