Was Second Half Real for Hawks Taurean Prince?

DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 14: Taurean Prince
DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 14: Taurean Prince /

When choosing an MVP for the Atlanta Hawks this season, it’d be hard not to choose Taurean Prince by default. The second-year player led the Hawks in three pointers, total minutes and placed second in points per game, all while being the only Hawk to appear in all 82 games, in which he was the starting small forward.

The impressive sophomore season was highlighted by an insanely powerful second half, when The Prince That Was Promised single-handedly kept the Hawks in games at some points.

From the start of March until the end of the season, The Baylor product scored a striking 19.2 PPG, while also shooting 42% from beyond the arch, and 89% from the stripe.

This stretch was spotlighted by a four-game stretch in mid-March. During this run, Prince scored 38 in two separate games (25, 22 in the other two), and while they lost all four of the games, there was little doubt Prince was one of the best players on the court, and was easily the Hawks’ best player.

While some might see this as a breakout, some might see it as a fluke. There is supporting evidence for both of these thought processes.

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First, it’s not a coincidence that Prince’s scoring stats started to rise right around the time that several notable players left the lineup. Marco Belinelli was waived (averaging 11.4 PPG at the time) as was Ersan Ilyasova (10.9) and Kent Bazemore (12.9) was injured around the same time. Losing three efficient scoring options is tough for any team, and the Hawks needed someone, anyone, to step up.

Prince heard the call and he answered, and in the 17 games after the departure of the aforementioned names, he averaged 20.1 points on over 16 shots a game, while having an overall +/- of -4.4 which is definitely not bad for being on a bottom-tier team like the Hawks.

The biggest detractor to Prince would be that he wasn’t a consistent scorer when surrounded by other scorers, and the main reason he broke out in the last two months of the season was because he was the lone scoring option besides Dennis Schröder (who also missed the last nine matchups of the season).

Watching TP closely, though, shows his game is clearly evolving. He was always a pretty good three-point scorer, but was mostly thought of more as a catch-and-shoot type of guy, not much of a shot creator. That changed this season. He’s a good ball handler for his size and has the ability to dribble his way into a shot.

He also uses his impressive speed in interesting and creative ways. Watch him zoom down the baseline for an open three here:

Then watch him turn on the jets to block Kelly Olynyk:


Speed is an insanely valuable basketball skill when you know how to use it. Last season and early this season Prince was still a raw talent, but his second half boom could be him finding a way to utilize his speed.

Outside of scoring, Prince added 3.5 assists a game after the All-Star break, up considerably from the 2.3 he put up in the first half. This could actually be a more likely result of key players leaving, allowing Prince to flex his distributing muscles, but still, it’ll be interesting to see if he can build on some highlight passes he made like this one:

Finding a player who can score, pass, defend, rebound and block is one of the hardest things to do in the NBA. During the home stretch of this season The Prince That Was Promised showed flashes of being a five-tool player. If he continues to build on this, he could be a true quality small forward for the Hawks in the future.

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Though it is possible that the former lottery pick has hit his ceiling, but there’s no reason to think he can’t build upon this and more. Alongside John Collins, it looks as if Atlanta has found two of their cornerstones of the future — now let’s see if they can find more in the draft.