As Zach Lowe writes in discussing Taurean Prince’s inclusion in his annual “Redeem Team,” a lot of people think the Nets should “salary dump” the 6’8” forward the Nets signed to a two-year, $29 million deal a year ago.
I keep reading smart people suggest the Nets attach a first-round pick to dump Prince’s salary, and thinking, Wait ... When did it get that bad? Shouldn’t this guy be able to help a good team? Isn’t he a potential 3-and-D guy?
I’m not alone on Prince Peninsula, right?
Instead, the ESPN writer says put away that speculation. Prince is likely to rebound from his disappointing season last year and more importantly, the Nets have no interest in getting rid of him in a salary dump.
The Nets have shown no inclination to salary dump Prince, let alone attach a pick to do so, sources said. That’s smart. Prince won’t ever be a No. 1 option at this level, but he can be a damned good plug-and-play support guy.
Lowe selected Prince as one of his “Redeem Team” members, “guys who are better than they looked last season — some in new situations, and a couple who remain with the same teams but should bounce back anyway.”
First, Lowe lays out what happened with the 26-year-old.
He hit just 33.9% from deep after canning 39% combined over the prior two seasons, and he missed a ton of open looks. Among 260 players who attempted at least 300 shots, only 18 underperformed their expected effective field-goal percentage — based on the location of each shot and nearby defenders — by a larger margin than Prince, per Second Spectrum.
As bad as that might look, Lowe thinks it was an aberration, that a bounce back, particularly playing with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both of whom are friends as well as teammates.
I’m betting it was random. Almost the entire drop stemmed from corner 3s; Prince hit 32% after canning 46% over the prior two seasons, per Cleaning The Glass. His mark on above-the-break 3s held steady.
There were other issues, Lowe admits, with turnovers and decision-making in general “but he also slipped slick pocket passes and fired lasers to the corner.”
The real need for improvement, Lowe says, is in Prince’s defense. Lowe notes he should be a better defender — he has a 7-foot wingspan — than he’s showed. If he improves, Lowe argues, he could be part of the Nets crunchtime lineup.
If he digs in on the other end, he could become part of Brooklyn’s crunch-time lineups. Prince has never been as good on defense as he looks like he should be. He’s quick, with a 7-foot wingspan. But his focus comes and goes, and he isn’t the most physical dude.
Prince, in his Zoom call with reporters Thursday, thinks that the addition of a healthy Durant and Irving is going to help him as well as the team.
- NBA Redeem Team: Six players ready to bounce back this season - Zach Lowe - ESPN+