Atlanta Hawks players that will contend for awards in 2018

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 11: John Collins
TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 11: John Collins /
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Taurean Prince: Most Improved Player

WASHINGTON, DC –  APRIL 26: Taurean Prince
WASHINGTON, DC –  APRIL 26: Taurean Prince /

Last season was an interesting one for second-year swingman Taurean Prince. He saw extremely limited time for the first half of the schedule, but then, with the ongoing struggles of Kent Bazemore and consistent production from Prince, he was inserted in the lineup for the last few games of the regular season and the entire playoffs.

In that time, he didn’t necessarily shock the world. It was not a “Linsanity” type of story by any means. What he did do, however, was prove to the coaching staff and fans of the Atlanta Hawks that he has the potential to be a starter and eventual star in the NBA.

In his limited time during the regular season, he put up averages of 5.7 ppg with sub-par shooting numbers. However, in his 6 starts in the playoffs, he averaged 11 ppg and 5 rpg in only 29 minutes a night, while shooting 56% from the field. Prince’s court awareness, athleticism, finishing ability, and improving defensive prowess have fans excited to watch him develop.

While playing alongside veteran All-Stars and valuable starters such as Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr, Paul Millsap, and Dwight Howard, Prince understood his role on the floor and performed whatever was asked of him.

He was consistent defensively and did a great job limiting Otto Porter Jr. On offense, he proved himself as an explosive finisher, solid mid-range shooter, and a good decision-maker.

Out of college, Prince was looked at by analysts as a future 3-and-D role player, and drew comparisons to former Hawk DeMarre Carroll. After his showing in April, it is clear now that he can be better than Carroll ever was. The comparisons now include stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

He will clearly have an increased role this season and will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. It is a possibility that he could even turn into the #2 scoring option behind Schroder.

No matter how good or bad the Hawks are next season, Prince will improve. It is reasonable to make a case that his improvement could render national attention. He is far from his prime, and it will be fun to watch him grow.

Predicted Statistics: 14.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.1 apg 43%/36%/79%