Strong Sophomore Season Lands Prince In Elite Company

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Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

Taurean Prince finished the 2017-18 season on a strong note worthy of a bicep-flex emoji. 

Consider that after the NBA All-Star break, there were only four players who had at least 50 threes, 70 assists, 100 defensive rebounds and 30 steals: LeBron James, James Harden, Paul George and Prince.

Now at this point, one might say that we're cherry-picking stats – setting four arbitrary thresholds in various categories. At the same time, that's a serious group of players, and the big picture fits with what various players have said this week about the Hawks offense for the upcoming 2018-19 season: it won't just be the point guards who can make a play with the ball in their hands. 

Ponder those numbers for a moment: steals and defensive rebounds are ways to gain possession of the ball. Threes and assists are the qualities that make a player a threat on offense with the ball in his hands. Taurean can do both. He can gain possession of the ball, push it down the floor, and do something productive with it.

 

And he kept working on it this summer with one of basketball's top trainers.  

"The offseason went well," Prince said. "I based myself in LA and worked out with Drew Hanlen and a few other guys, really just plucking the minds of the people I was watching working out. Drew Hanlen, to me, he's the best trainer as far as getting guys to think in a different way. He helped me this summer with as far as I came in three or four months of training."

Prince said that the skills he worked in Los Angeles included "finishing, consistency on my three-point form, body language when I'm shooting – just little small things that continue to give me an edge."

His three-point form was already in top form at the end of last season. He finished with the third-most threes in the NBA after the All-Star break (73) behind only Kyle Lowry and J.J. Redick. It wasn't just about volume, either. Prince converted 41.3 percent of his threes in the second half of the season. 

Prince attributed his success to the situation in which he was placed. He said that he had a lot of opportunity and a clear frame of mind whether he made or missed the shots. He also got assistance from teammates and coaches. 

"Good teammates will get you the ball, obviously, and I just continue to work with Coach (Chris) Jent," Prince said. "That's my guy. He continues to stay in my ear about what I need to do, and what I don't need to do, and what he sees on the floor." 

At 24 years old, Prince is maturing as a player and closing in on his full potential, but he realizes that there are still a number of opportunities for growth. 

"I pretty much am who I am, but there's a lot more to get better at as far as what I do," Prince said. "I can become a better shooter, better ballhandler, better defender and a better scorer all around at multiple levels. I've shown a little bit of that, but I still have a long way to go. I'm excited for everything to come when it does come."