The end of Taurean Prince’s rookie campaign left Hawks fans with a feeling of hope after the dismantling of the last starter from the 2015, 60-win campaign in All Star Power Forward Paul Millsap. Days before Millsap’s departure, the Hawks traded former All-Star Center Dwight Howard after one season to the Charlotte Hornets with the “intentions” to eliminate a bad contract and to just add another terrible contract in Miles Plumlee.
Nonetheless, Prince looks to continue to develop during a inevitable rebuild in the Hawks organization entering the 2017-18 NBA season. During the first half of the 2016-2017 season, Prince found playing time often, however, he fell out of the rotation due to Budenholzer’s shuffling of the lineups. It was not until after the All-Star break where Prince found his way back into the rotation and never looked back!
Prince started the last 10 games of the season helping the Hawks hold on to the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, winning 6 out of 10 games. Prince was a solid contributor during that stretch averaging (11) Points Per Game, (4) Rebounds Per Game, and (2) Assists Per Game. The rookie sensation earned the respect of his Hawks teammates and the True Believers, earning him the opportunity to start in the Hawks playoff series loss against divisional foe, the Washington Wizards.
Prince is living up to the hype that surrounded the second year forward when the Hawks began pursuing him as their 12th overall selection for the 2016 NBA Draft. Prince’s talent and potential raised eyes of Hawks fans; however, none of us anticipated him making impact at a high level entering his second year. As far as expectations, he has exceeded them immensely and looks to build on to what could possibly be the next great tandem in himself and Point Guard Dennis Schroder.
Prince has established himself as respectable High-tier defender around the league at such a young age, which led to the Hawks parting ways with veteran Small Forward, Thabo Sefolosha. Taurean plays with a high motor, he’s an opportunistic defender that has no fear despite the challenges around the NBA. His demeanor never changes and you won’t question his intensity and toughness. The biggest surprise down the stretch and throughout the postseason was the offensive impact of the rookie, which was key in the Hawks extending the series.
After averaging (11) Points Per Game in the Washington series, Prince impressed shooting 56% from the field and became a heavily scouted player as the Hawks extended the series! League wide, there wouldn’t have been a consideration for the rookie on any All-Pro teams. Many credit the lack of respect for Taurean Prince is due to the limited amount of games.
However, despite Prince’s impact in the 2016-17 Hawks playoff run, he’s still a unknown among the pundits across the NBA and during his Sophomore campaign, he’ll have the opportunity to shine. Taurean Prince has the potential makeup to be a force in this league for years to come. He will be called upon to do much more than last year and it will be interesting to see his progression on a Hawks roster that’s rebuilding under new General Manager, Travis Schlenk.
If Prince continues to develop as a threat offensively and vastly improve his daunting defensive skill set, the Hawks could be a surprise team in the Eastern Conference and make another playoff appearance. The King of the league is still in charge of the East, but if you look down in Atlanta, there’s a Prince arriving!