Atlanta Hawks 2017-18 Season Grades: Taurean Prince

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 8: Taurean Prince
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 8: Taurean Prince /

Taurean Prince was selected in the late lottery by the Utah Jazz and then immediately traded as part of a three-team deal to the Atlanta Hawks.

He impressed in his rookie season in spot minutes, especially in the playoffs, as he was one of the few rookies in a rather weak class who was making a significant impact late in the season.

Speaking of late in the season, Prince’s 2017-18 campaign started out slow but then erupted as injuries depleted the squad and Prince was given the reins to the offense as the team’s primary ballhandler.

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He responded in spectacular fashion, dropping 30-point games with regularity and generally washing away the extreme inconsistency that defined the early portion of his 2017-18 season.

Though recency bias is certainly playing a role in this evaluation, Prince showed so much during the final few months of the season that he either made himself an important young asset for the Hawks in a trade, or he forced himself into the conversation as one of the team’s most immovable building blocks in the fledgling stages of the team’s rebuild.

After the All-Star break (in which Taurean participated in the Rising Stars game), The Prince That Was Promised produced per-game averages of 19 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 30.5 minutes a game. Prince was also getting up a lot of three-pointers, leading the team after the break with 7.7 deep tries per game (the closest to that sky-high number was rookie Tyler Dorsey’s 5.1 attempted three-pointers per tilt).

TP also upped his usage during his sophomore campaign, and former coach Mike Budenholzer felt comfortable having Prince act as the team’s lead ballhandler/point forward for much of the final 2 months of the season. Prince’s 22.1 usage percentage was third-highest on the team, behind only starting point guard Dennis Schröder and starting two guard Kent Bazemore.

With Schröder likely out the door via a trade after announcing he was unhappy in Atlanta, Prince’s usage and lead ballhandling should increase in his third season in the league.

Taurean Prince likely did enough down the end of the season that he should be seen as a near-irreplaceable part of the Atlanta Hawks rebuild, and his go-to scoring ability – while dependent on having the ball in his hands – was a welcome development for a Hawks team that finished 25th in scoring during the 2017-18 season.

Next: Hawks Mock Draft After the NBA Draft Lottery

Many young players will be joining the Hawks after the NBA Draft in June, but The Prince That Was Promised did enough during the season to prove his importance to the franchise going forward.

2017-18 Season Grade: B-