With an impressive win in Utah to end the Jazz’s nine game win streak Tuesday night, it’s due time to examine the Hawks present and their future.
Dennis Schroder was the star Tuesday night, dropping 41 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a 99-94 Atlanta win over the streaking Jazz. Winning though, has not come often this season for the Hawks. Before yesterday’s win they had lost their last six in a row, and currently own the league’s third worst record at 21-50. This is their first season of true tanking, and whoever they pick in this upcoming draft will likely determine the direction of their long term plan. But, some of the pieces on the Hawks roster right now could grow with the team, and help in the development of whatever young star joins Atlanta next season. One of those pieces is second year forward Taurean Prince.
He had a poor game against the Jazz, but is playing the strongest three week stretch of his young NBA career. In the month of March, Prince is averaging 20.3 points on 44.2% shooting from the field and 43% from three to go along with 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He also has single game totals of 38 points twice, 25, 24 and 22 twice. 20.3 is Prince’s highest monthly scoring output of his career, the 5.8 rebounds is second highest, and the 2.9 assists per game are the most he’s ever posted. On the year, Prince is showing improvement across the board on his offensive game, diversifying his skill set and enhancing his three point shot considerably.
Last year about 36% of Prince’s shots were threes, and he knocked down a little over 34% of them. This year, Prince has upped both percentages considerably, with threes making up 47% of his total shots and 39% of them falling. He shoots 48% on threes in the corner, up from 34% last season.
This is not to say Prince’s offensive is game is anywhere close to finished. On the season, he is only averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 42% shooting from the field and 39% shooting from three. His offensive win shares still register as a negative, -0.1, but it’s up from last year’s number of -0.4.
Defensive win shares is much kinder to Prince, and labels him worth 1.5 shares. He has long been regarded as a strong defensive player, and typically guards the opponents best forward. He is probably a stretch four going forward, who pairs best with a rim protecting five.
He is far from a number one option on offense, but young 6’8 forwards who can shoot and defend are one of the league’s most desired assets, and should pair well with Atlanta’s ever changing young core.