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Taurean Prince’s ‘first time’ as a Net — with Long Island

SAQUAN STIMPSON/SPECIAL TO THE DELAWARE 87ERS

He wore a home jersey with “Nets” written across the front and played home games at Barclays Center. For Taurean Prince, acquired in an early June cap-clearing trade with the Hawks, this is his second time as a Net, but this time it’s as a Brooklyn Net. Back in 2016-17, he played five games as a Long Island Net.

How so? Atlanta at that point had no G League team (still the D League then) so if it wanted to give its younger talent minutes, he had to work out a deal with other teams who did have a G League affiliate ... and in this case, that was the Nets. It was —and is— called the flexible assignment rule. The choice was a natural. The Nets, both Brooklyn and Long Island, ran the same offense, which in turn was based on what Mike Budenholzer ran in Atlanta where Kenny Atkinson had been his assistant.

So on December 29, 2016, Taurean Prince was assigned to the Long Island Nets. Taken at No. 12 in the NBA Draft the previous June, Prince was averaging 3.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per contest.

How’d he do? Very well. Over the course of five games, three of which he started for Long Island, he averaged 20 points a game and 7.6 rebounds while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. His highlights remain preserved on his G League web page. Here’s some highlights from those five games.

His best game, against Delaware, came early on in his Nets stint. The 6’8” Prince finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds for Long Island. Here’s the highlights to that game, played at Barclays Center.

Atlanta recalled him in early February ... and now have a G League affiliate of their own. Only Portland and Denver are now hold outs.

The Nets obviously filed away what they saw and then acted on it in June, acquiring Prince and a 2021 second rounder in return for Allen Crabbe and two firsts, the 17th pick in the 2019 Draft and a protected pick in next year’s Draft.

Prince recalls the offense he ran then under Budenholzer and now under Atkinson.

“It’s kind of similar to what I was doing my first two years; I call it constructed open gym in a way,” said Prince of the Brooklyn offense. “Just able to be yourself and read and react basketball. Play defense and turn it into offense and then you get games where you’re really good.”

Prince is obviously a more seasoned and skilled pro now but as the highlights show, he could shoot then as well.