Lost amid the trade and free agent speculation that shook the NBA world Thursday, the Brooklyn Nets came away with an intriguing piece worth more than a cursory look. Taurean Prince is pretty good.
To reconstruct, the Nets traded two first round picks – the 17th pick this year and a top-14 protected next year — to Atlanta so they could shed $18.5 million of cap space by unloading Allen Crabbe. As part of the deal, Brooklyn also quietly brought in Prince, a 25-year-old forward taken with the 12th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. That was eight picks above Caris LeVert.
The Nets feel the 6’8” Baylor product can be a good development piece ... who can also contribute now. Indeed, Prince might turn into a good 3-and-D piece that can also play the stretch-4. He’s a career 38 percent shooter from deep and is coming off a season in which he averaged 13.5 points per game in 55 appearances, 47 starts. He missed time with ankle and foot issues, but was coming off a season where he played in all 82 game and had slightly better numbers.
Here’s what Draft Express wrote on him when he was coming out of Baylor:
Players with Prince’s key traits typically enjoy a great deal of success when allowed to slot into a projectable role, work within a system, and move themselves up the food chain. Prince’s elevated serious-minded approach to opportunity and goal-focus gives him value beyond his four years of collegiate experience.
Emphasis on the system-fit part. The Hawks, then under Mike Budenholzer, liked Prince’s style, one that fit theirs with its emphasis on pace and space. Budenholzer’s assistant Kenny Atkinson borrowed that style and brought it to Brooklyn.
That alone should give Prince a head start, offers Spencer Davies of Basketball Insider and CloseUp 360...
Taurean Prince should work perfectly within Kenny Atkinson's system in Brooklyn. On the other side, Atlanta must be eyeing a wing with that eighth pick to part ways with one of their starting forwards. Not bad to gain two first-rounders as well.— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) June 6, 2019
Kristian Winfield of SB Nation agrees.
I was very high on Taurean Prince but I didn’t think Crabbe + No. 17 would get it done. Really good, young two-way wing Brooklyn just came up on. Excellent move by Marks & co.— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) June 6, 2019
And Michael Rapaport was positively delirious.
With Prince’s versatility to play the 3 or even the 4, a role he increasingly took on in Atlanta, he’s likely to find a big role on the Nets no matter what the roster will look like come October.
Here’s what he told FOX Sports Kristine Leahy recently about who he models his game after.
“Coming into the league, it was Kawhi Leonard,” Prince told Leahy. “It’s still him but I like the aggressiveness and mindset that KD [Kevin Durant] has. No matter who he’s playing with, he always tries to be as efficient as possible.”
Leahy also mentioned that Prince and KD are friends.
“We talk about things that can help my preparation, ways to be better off the court. He’s a big family guy and so am I… [We became friends] through the basketball world. My best friend is friends with his best friend, so they linked through that way and we just connected.”
Prince went onto explain that (like Caris LeVert) he and KD even work out together in the summer and how KD helps him. It’s certainly an interesting point, considering the Nets are all-in on the KD sweepstakes. Prince also emphasized being a family guy —with two young children— in the interview and that’s something they value in Brooklyn’s culture.
He isn’t necessarily a new face either. During his rookie season, the Hawks assigned him to the Long Island Nets, under the flexible assignment rule. In five games with Long Island, Prince averaged 20.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in 28 minutes per game.
The Nets are getting a high-energy player whose game may remind you of DeMarre Carroll’s. He runs the floor, can create off the dribble and work off the ball as a slasher in the lane. That should bode well in Brooklyn’s offense.
Culturally speaking, he has no scratches on his reputation and he spent part of his youth homeless and living in shelters with his father, as he documented in a Players Tribune article published in 2018. That experience encouraged him to give back, particularly in his native San Antonio. And let’s not forget the Nets just hired Jeff Peterson, the Hawks assistant GM who no doubt was consulted on the new acquisition.
Here’s video of his best game, early last season...
That’s the kind of wide open game the Nets encourage.
So far, Prince has been quiet about the trade which won’t take effect until July 6. He has reacted well to others’ reactions...
And yes, he and KD follow each other.