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Was Taurean Prince misplaced at the 4? What’s his role when KD returns?

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Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers

If at the time the Nets signed Taurean Prince, fans were told that the 25-year-old would average 12.1 points, a career-high six rebounds, play good if not great defense and lead the team in both 3-point shots and games played, fans would’ve probably nodded and said, that’s cool.

Of course, if you added that Prince would hit a career-low in shooting percentage (37.6) and very close to a career low (33.9) in 3 point shooting, maybe the fans’ brows would arch a bit. There you have it: the ups and the downs, the yin and the yang, the love and the hate.

The Nets have invested a lot in Prince. He was brought on to fill in for Kevin Durant, his good friend, at the 4 until the 10-time All-Star returned. To get him, they essentially gave up this year’s first rounder in the Allen Crabbe salary dump. The Nets also gave him a two-year, $25 million extension that kicks in next season. The question is whether he’s a good long-term fit.

As Brian Lewis notes Tuesday, Prince lost a big backer when the Nets dumped Kenny Atkinson and replaced him with Jacque Vaughn just before play was suspended.

[S]hortly before Kenny Atkinson parted ways with the franchise, the deposed coach admitted Prince still needed more time for the Nets to get the best out of him.

Prince found himself pulled from the starting lineup by Atkinson in the deposed coach’s final game, and was still used as reserve by interim coach Jacque Vaughn until the season was shut down.

Prince was honest in that he wanted to start but he was willing to play whatever role the Nets needed him to play.

“I’m a grown man, it’s fine,” Prince said. “Do I want to come off the bench? Completely not. But do I want to do whatever it takes to help the team get to where we ultimately want to go? Any day of the week...

“There is not really a difference,” he added. “Still being aggressive offensively and flying around defensively, just doing whatever it takes to win.”

Assuming he isn’t included in some mega-deal for a third star, the Nets will need to find a way to utilize him with KD and Kyrie Irving returning.

Lewis notes there’s evidence that he was playing out of position...

With Durant hurt, Prince had to switch positions. After logging 93 percent of his minutes as a small forward (with Atlanta) last season, according to Cleaning The Glass, he spent 91 percent of this season as a stretch four.

If he can return to what he did as a 3 in his last two seasons with the Hawks while maintaining his durability, he could provide a lift off the bench. Less pressure and a more stable role. Might just work for those same fans who liked the idea of Taurean Prince a year back.