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Phillip Veasley

BREAKING: Hawks trade Prince to Nets

The Atlanta Hawks made a big trade today as they send Taurean Prince and a 2021 second round pick to the Nets. The Nets send Allen Crabbe, the 17th pick in this year’s draft, and a protected pick for the 2020 draft. The Hawks will get the Nets pick next season if the Nets finish anywhere between 1 and 14. The Hawks now have the 8th, 10th, and 17th picks in the first round. The Hawks also have six total picks with three in the first and three in the second. Now with Atlanta having these picks, it gives them more options to move up in the draft or exchange these picks for a young player.

Hawks receiving Crabbe does mean that they will pay him $18 million next season. However, he is in his final year of his contract that he originally signed with the Nets. Crabbe did miss some time with a knee injury last season. He did average 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1,1 assists last season. It will be interesting to see how well Crabbe will fit into coach Pierce’s system. For more updates on this trade and all things Atlanta Hawks follow @ATLHawks_Talk on twitter.

 

By: Stewart Zwald  @SDZwald041599

Atlanta Hawks 2018-19 Player Recaps: Taurean Prince

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

Taurean Prince came into his third season in the NBA with much to prove. Although he is growing with this team, many fans wanted to see him make an even bigger jump this season. Injuries and trade rumors filled Taurean’s season, but he showed resilience and proved to be one of the Hawks best players this year. He was our go to guy on offense, one of our best 3 point shooters, and a leader in the locker room. Although he is still struggling to find his niche in the NBA, he definitely showed he belongs this year.

Prince played 55 out of 82 games this season after being hobbled with a severe ankle sprain. He started the season strong scoring over 20 points in 6 of his first 20 games. His 3 point shot was the strongest of his career, shooting 39% this season and had multiple games this year making 5 or more 3s. Unfortunately, a severe ankle sprain December 3 against the Warriors halted Prince’s amazing season and he was sidelined 17 straight games. Prince was slow to return and didn’t start getting his regular minutes until late in the season.

Prince’s season was full of ups and downs. He learned his game is best playing off the ball, especially when his shot gets going. We saw upside, like February 23 against Phoenix, where he had 21 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals, but then he had games struggling to score over 9 points or make any impact on the game, especially when facing strong defensive matchups. I don’t know if it was the severe ankle injury or bad play but Prince severely struggled to end the season. He sat out games, had some outlandish shooting nights and costly turnovers hurt us in key situations. Overall Prince had a solid season but it’s hard to judge it when you know he wasn’t 100%. We definitely saw potential and can only look forward to what he can do when healthy a full year.

Trade rumors filled most of the season as some Hawks fans rather trade Taurean and build for the future, but career highs and seeing the young Hawks grow together made those thoughts fade. Taurean shot less shots this year(10.8) but had a better field goal percentage(49%) and almost averaged his same points as last year(13.5). He is learning to make offense off the ball and the acquisition of rookie point guard phenom, Trae Young, definitely helped. He cut down on some of his offensive turnovers(1.8) and stepped up his defensive steals(1.1) with a smarter mindset.

With the Hawks set to draft a big name forward in the draft, we don’t know about Taurean’s future with the team. Drafting a big name forward, with our already crowded back court, might hurt his growth and minutes which is why most fans see a trade. He is not a lockdown defender, nor the fastest or biggest forward and can struggle to find his offense against elite defenders. Either way, we love Taurean with this team and hope he can play the last year of his rookie deal. If he’s not with us next year, his growth and skill showed he’ll be a solid player in this league for years to come.

By: Evan Nix

Taurean Prince: Forever Humble

Music blasts from the speakers and dozens of preteens dribble basketballs as Taurean Prince enters the gym of South Atlanta High School. This is just one of many camps that the Atlanta Hawks forward and his father, Anthony, conduct each year, both in Atlanta and in their home town of San Antonio, Texas.

Prince circles the gym, greeting each parent watching from the bleachers-and there are quite a few of them-and personally thanking each one of them for bringing their child to learn basketball and life lessons from an NBA player for the day.

Why are these community events so meaningful for Prince?

“I think it’s because of my upbringing, just not having everything that I always wanted,” he explains. “I never had somebody to come in my town every year and give back to us and give us a vision as far as where we could go.” 

With events like this camp, he’s making sure that the next generation of kids won’t have the same experience he did.

*****

One of the most noticeable things about Prince’s style of play is his tenacity. He dives after every lose ball. He hustles for every rebound within reach.

I think that just comes from wanting to be very good at what I do as far as being a professional athlete,” he says. “I feel like you never know when it could all be taken from you.”

This persistence and dedication has led the 24-year old forward to becoming one of the key cogs of the new youth-led movement in Atlanta.

Prince’s journey hasn’t been easy. He and his father moved around a lot in the San Antonio area when Taurean was a kid, and at times even found themselves homeless. That unsteady home life growing up is one reason why his profile name on both Instagram and Twitter is “Forever Humble.”

[Obstacles] are gonna come. No life is an easy life, so if you can get over every roadblock that’s thrown your way, I think it only makes you a stronger person,” he says. Roadblocks would indeed come at every turn on his path to the NBA.

Prince doesn’t remember when he first realized he had the potential to make a career out of basketball. In fact, he only started playing basketball because he didn’t want to play an outdoor sport in the Texas heat. He says, “[I was] just playing it for leisure purposes, and I really didn’t feel like I had a big chance until I went to college, seeing those coaches come in and out from the [NBA].”

Anthony Prince, however, saw his son’s star potential early on, starting with Taurean’s time in a YMCA league in Arlington. “When he was about nine years old, he could dribble at that age better than most kids could,” the elder Prince says. “It was just unbelievable what he would do with the basketball in his hands, how quickly he could take it up and down the court…He looked like he didn’t belong on the court with them.”

Despite this natural basketball instinct and his favorable genetics, Prince was still not a heavily recruited high school prospect, mainly receiving Division II offers.

Prince initially signed with Long Island University before a coaching change at the school reopened his recruitment eligibility. That’s when the Baylor Bears came calling. “I think I signed like three days later, it being three hours from where I grew up,” he says.

At Baylor, Prince averaged 3.7 and 6.2 points per game in his first two seasons, respectively, while seeing limited playing time. Not surprisingly, he remained undeterred, continuing to work his way up the ranks of the Baylor program.

tarueanpic1(2)
Taurean Prince coaches campers

He says, “The scouts [came] to watch [Baylor teammates] Rico Gathers, Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, Pierre Jackson, all those guys, and I wanted them to be there for me. I always told myself that they were there for me, so I practiced and played as if they were. Next thing you know I was on the [NBA] draft board my junior year, and just kept it going.”

One of the more memorable moments of Prince’s tenure with the Bears was his quote about rebounds that followed Baylor’s loss to Yale in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The public reaction to his comment startled him. “People don’t realize that that was literally probably less than about ten minutes from the time we lost,” he recalls. “They didn’t give us time to go to the locker room to calm down or anything, so it was a genuine answer. It just so happened to be one of the most sarcastic answers I’ve given.”

Prince would finish his senior season at Baylor with averages of 15.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. This, along with his height and nearly 7’0″ wingspan, prompted many draft experts to project him to be a mid-to-upper first-round pick. Sure enough, Atlanta took him twelfth overall with a pick that was acquired from the Utah Jazz.

Prince could finally exhale when he found out that he had been drafted. “[It was] a milestone that I put my mind to and I actually reached,” he says. “When you do things like that, when you put your mind to something and it takes years to reach, and you know it takes years to reach, but you steady push every single day in order to get it…I think that takes real leadership, real guts, and real focus.”

The newly-drafted Prince didn’t see much playing time early in his rookie year, but he slowly worked his way into the lineup, eventually earning a starting spot in Atlanta’s playoff series against the Wizards.

No one was happier than his father. Describing how he felt when he heard that Taurean would be starting, Anthony says, “One word. ‘Finally.’ I felt that he had finally come to that point in his life where he had proven not only to the coaches, not only to people who watch the NBA, he had finally proven to himself that he belonged.”

Last season, following the departures of Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Dwight Howard, Prince became the second-leading scorer on the Hawks, averaging just over 14 points per game. Although the team only won 24 games, Prince put together a solid sophomore season, at one point scoring 38 points twice in a four-game span.

*****

After the basketball portion of the camp concludes, Prince gathers the eagerly-listening kids for some words of advice and of course, to highlight the importance of giving back to your community. One of the main points of his speech is the importance of patience, a virtue he knows very well.

Afterwards, he takes pictures with the youngsters, signs autographs, and hands out pizza, concluding an unbelievable experience for the kids.

picwithcampers
Taurean Prince smiles with campers.

The small forward now finds himself at a crossroads in his basketball career. Off-season roster moves have left Prince as one of the longest-tenured Hawks, entering just his third year.

Fortunately, he has plenty of leadership experience. “I was a senior in college two years ago, so I have leadership qualities,” he explains. “It’s all about really just figuring out who can take certain things, as far as coaching, as far as being led. You can’t talk with everybody the same.”

He also intends to lead the younger Hawks by example. “I’m not a fan of guys trying to be leaders that don’t work hard and gain the respect of their peers,” he explains bluntly.

Coming into the 2018-19 season, Prince is arguably the most complete player on the Hawks’ roster, but he knows he still has room for improvement. For starters: “Consistency. Just being consistent. Doing whatever it is that I do at a high level every single night, eighty-two times.”

Consistency will certainly be a sizable task for a player asked to do the majority of the scoring for the first time in his NBA career.

When looking back at how far Prince has come, it would be easy for him to be satisfied with where he is now. But, of course, he isn’t.

“I look forward to the future, but I always focus on the present. Staying true to the people around you, staying true to myself, and just being genuine,” he says.

Make no mistake. With his humble beginnings, breakout moments, and everything in between under his belt, Taurean Prince is poised to raise eyebrows around the league.

Perhaps no one puts it better than his father. “The tools that this kid has, he’s like a rough diamond. He’s still uncut. There’s still so much for this young man to learn…I can’t wait to see what he comes with in the next two years…I’m ecstatic about it.”

Jackson Stone – @tdjs_network

To see the full Q&A, click here.

Special thank you to Taurean Prince and Anthony Prince for giving interviews for this article!

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Hawks: 5 Early Storylines Heading Into The 2018-19 Season

Lloyd Pierce, Kevin Huerter, Trae Young, Omari Spellman (Bleacher Report)

As basketball junkies across the globe try and survive these dry months of August and September, it’s never too early to look forward to the upcoming season. After a hectic off-season filled with new front office members, coaches, rookies and veterans, the Atlanta Hawks will enter the 2018-19 season looking drastically different from the year before. Here are the five most fascinating storylines for Atlanta’s team as we approach the end of August.

5: Early Trade Candidates
Although it’s still the summer and fans haven’t even seen the new-look Hawks play a single pre-season game, it’s never too early to start thinking about potential trades down the line. After moving Dennis Schroder to scoop up a potential 2022 first round pick, I believe Travis Schlenk will look to do the same with other veterans on cap-friendly deals who can contribute to an playoff contender.

The two Hawks that come to mind as trade bait are Jeremy Lin and Kent Bazemore. Being on the last year of his deal, Lin is entering this season on a mission to prove he can still play at a high level following last season’s devastating injury. The good news is that Lin will be given every opportunity to succeed, as most believe he will begin the season in the starting lineup. Throughout his career Lin has shown a consistent scoring and playmaking ability, and if he can get back to his pre-injury form Atlanta will be fielding calls for him at the deadline. In return, Atlanta will be able to get an asset or two that they can add to their young core.

Kent Bazemore finds himself in a similar situation to Lin but with two more years left on his deal. Bazemore presents the physical prototype for a 3-D player in the league and is coming off the best three-point shooting season of his career in which he put up almost five 3 point attempts per game at a 39.4% clip. Reports have leaked that teams like Houston have shown interest in Bazemore, and in a new system without the ball-dominant presence of Dennis Schroder there should be more ball movement and opportunity for Bazemore to put up career numbers. Every team in the league can use a guy off the bench like Bazemore and Travis Schlenk will leverage that come the February trade deadline.

4: Draft Pick Watch: Cleveland & Dallas
While Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman headline the Hawks youth movement, there’s a strong possibility that Atlanta will add three more young prospects in the 2019 draft. In addition to their own first round pick in the upcoming draft, Atlanta also owns Cleveland’s top 10 protected pick from the Kyle Korver trade and Dallas’ top 5 protected pick from the Trae Young for Luka Doncic swap. It seems inevitable that Atlanta will get the Dallas pick as most pundits project Dallas to win around 40 games. It is the Cleveland selection, however, where things become interesting. If Cleveland finishes in the bottom 10 of the league this year, Atlanta will then receive two future second round picks, but if Cleveland finishes outside the bottom 10 then the pick goes to the Hawks. How Cleveland will do this season is a big question mark as the East is left wide open after Lebron’s departure. However, if Kevin Love can return to Timberwolves-form for the Cavs, then ruling them out already for a shot at the 8 spot could be a bit unreasonable.

3: Young Wing Play
Another intriguing development for Atlanta will be the improvement of their young wing play. It all starts with third year man Taurean Prince. The Baylor product hasn’t looked back since his coming out party in the 2017 playoffs in which he doubled his playing time and improved his stat line across the board. Prince brings defensive intensity every single night which is the main reason why Mike Budenholzer was so obsessed with him in the 2016 draft. However, his offensive consistency is what holds him back from becoming a reliable go-to wing in the league. Prince has shown glimpses of what he can become, including five thirty-point games this past season, and 14.1 PPG on 43% shooting.

Justin Anderson and Deandre Bembry are the unknowns that close out this short list. Anderson, still only 24 years old, enters his fourth season with his third different team. JA was a very productive two-way player at UVA and has shown flashes of relevancy when given a chance. In reality, Anderson hasn’t been given a real opportunity, averaging over 20 MPG just once in his career and Atlanta might be the place where he can prove his worth. Anderson has always been a high energy, productive defensive player but the test is the offensive side of the ball where we’ll see if Anderson can put himself in the conversation as a real rotation player.

Similar to Anderson, Bembry is a wildcard player for the Hawks this season. Following his injury plagued sophomore year, the former first round pick will have to prove he’s worthy of taking minutes from Prince, Bazemore, Anderson and others. Bembry’s athleticism is what stands out, but if he can’t provide shooting on the offensive end then the third year man out of Saint Joseph’s could find himself on the trade block.

2: The Development of John Collins
One of last season’s few bright spots, John Collins is a guy that has Hawks fans on the egde of their seats. The second year man out of Wake Forest provided efficient play last season with a 15.7-10.9 points per game to rebounds per game ratio per 36 minutes. Additionally, basketball junkies who followed Summer League in Vegas a couple of months ago saw how advanced he is in comparison to rookies at his position. Collins was effortlessly raining threes, crashing the offensive glass, throwing down put-back slams and demonstrating everything else you could want from a potential small-ball center.

Collins still has room to grow. He still has to get more comfortable with his shot and his perimeter defense must improve but the jump he’s made in the months following his rookie campaign should have Atlanta fans drooling. Collins should find himself as the starting power forward next to Dewayne Dedmon next season, but he also presents the physical tools and long-term potential to become a crunch-time center who can defend all positions and wreck-havoc from all spots on the offensive side.

1: Trae Young’s Play
The key to Travis Schlenk’s success, the Peach State eyes will be on Trae Young this season. While many were critical of the decision to trade the rights to Luka Doncic, Schlenk is reportedly attempting to build the ‘Warriors of the East”;  Young as Steph Curry, Kevin Huerter as Klay Thompson and Omari Spellman harnessing the Draymond role. While all three rookies will require patience and time to develop, the pressure will be higher on Young from the get-go as fans around the league will want to see results immediately. Young’s talent and feel for the game is undeniable, but the questions mark is his physical strength and lack of experience that is needed to be an effective floor general in this league. I don’t think Young will put himself in any serious conversation for rookie of the year or an all-rookie team, but if he does, Hotlanta will find itself in a frenzy all season long.