clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Will the Atlanta Hawks get post-All Star Break Taurean Prince next season?

Prince will have plenty of opportunity to expand his game in 2018-19.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Atlanta Hawks drafted Trae Young back in June, most of the talk has been about how he’s going to play come the 2018-19 NBA season. Of course, this hype is warranted, considering the Hawks made a questionable move by selecting European superstar Luka Doncic only to trade him for Young on draft night.

Atlanta’s front office has confidence in Young’s ability but he’s a rookie; despite how high he was chosen in the NBA Draft, it won’t be a surprise to the organization if he doesn’t put up game-changing numbers in his first year. But third-year player Taurean Prince will be expected to make a leap, possibly a major one based off how he finished his sophomore season.

Last season, Taurean Prince was thrown into the starting lineup permanently after he showed he could hold his own in the playoffs his rookie year. When given more minutes during his 2017-18 campaign, his numbers grew and he was obviously an improved player from the season before. But Prince took things to another level after the NBA All-Star break.

Before the All-Star break, the former Baylor standout averaged 12.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists shooting an average 36.8 percent from behind the arc, 44.3 percent from the field, and 81.7 percent from the line. After the All-Star break, Prince averaged 19 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting a blazing 41.2 percent from long range, the same 44.3 percent from the field, and an efficient 89.2 percent from the line.

His true shooting percentage went up from 53 percent to 58.5 percent, thanks to his improved three-point and free throw shooting. Prince improved in these categories and it wasn’t due to him playing more minutes in the second half of the season. It was a result of his confidence skyrocketing and the team putting the ball in his hands more often.

In the first half of the season, Prince attempted 280 three-point attempts over 59 games, around five attempts a game. In the second half, he attempted 177 three-point attempts over just 23 games, closer to eight attempts a game. Not only was he shooting a better percentage from deep in the second half of the season, but he was also shooting more.

If Prince shot like that over a span of ten games, one could argue that it was just a small hot streak. But a player shooting with that much confidence and making shots at an efficient rate over 23 games might be the real deal. There were times during the end of the season where Prince finished games and showed he could be a big time shot creator also. Former Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer began to gain trust in Prince as a closer and not just a spot up shooter/slasher.

With Dennis Schröder gone to Oklahoma City, Prince has a chance to be the guy that will take shots at a high rate for the Hawks and this could give him the confidence he showed a few months ago. If so, this will make it much easier on other players.

Travis Schlenk drafted very capable three-point shooters in this year’s draft who could use someone like Prince to make things easier for them as they transition into the NBA. If Young is anything close to the shooter he was in college, he and Prince could be a deadly weapon offensively. Defense also could be a plus for the Hawks if Prince can step it up, though it has to be mentioned that he regressed on that end of the floor from his rookie to sophomore seasons.

No matter how good Prince is next season, it won’t give the Atlanta Hawks many wins if he’s the only guy that can fill the stat sheet. Hopefully, Prince can carry that end-of-season energy into next season while his teammates feed off of it.