Atlanta Hawks: Taurean Prince Is Most Important Player for Future

Taurean Prince #12 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin Liles/NBAE via Getty Images)
Taurean Prince #12 of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin Liles/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A dissection of the Atlanta Hawks future and where third-year wing Taurean Prince fits into the team’s nascent rebuild and future ascendancy.

The Atlanta Hawks have completely transformed themselves since the incredible run the team went on during the 2014-15 season under the watchful gaze of Coach Mike Budenholzer.

Budenholzer and his handpicked point guard Dennis Schröder both departed this offseason, leaving only Kent Bazemore as the lone representative of that fruitful period in Atlanta Hawks history. A record 60 wins and its sole trip to the Eastern Conference were the heights achieved by the most recent iteration of a “great Hawks team.”

With new faces of the franchise on the roster now in John Collins and Trae Young, there is one player who bridges the gap between the old guard and the new: Taurean Prince.

Prince was selected 12th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, before Atlanta Hawks rebuild maestro Travis Schlenk took over GMing duties. Prince’s selection actually fell to Coach Bud, who was serving as the coach/executive combination that has doomed many a franchise in recent NBA history – including, currently, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The machinations of the three-team deal that brought Prince to Atlanta involved sending away entrenched point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers, while George Hill went to the Jazz and the Hawks picked up the #12 overall pick.

This was a fairly proactive move for Bud, whose General Managing could mostly be described as “win-now.” The acquisition of a low lottery pick, however, was counter-productive to that goal. Sure, Prince was a more seasoned college player after some hard-fought appearances in the NCAA Tournament, but he still had few expectations placed on him in his first season.

Now, after a breakout second season that saw Prince average 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists all while starting all 82 games, leading the Hawks in minutes and shooting 38.5 percent from deep, Prince has set himself up as a focal point for the Atlanta Hawks going forward.

He is also the most important player for the future of the Atlanta Hawks.

Of course Trae Young’s selection could be seen as a definitive answer to what Travis Schlenk values most on an NBA court and the continued growth of John Collins will likely play a major role in the team’s future. But when thinking about the most important and valuable players in the NBA today, versatile and sweet-shooting wings spring to mind as the

most important player archetype around the league.

Prince fits that description to a “T.” Not Young and not Collins.

Prince’s 2017-18 season was full of ups and downs, but after the All-Star Break, The Prince That Was Promised came into his own and erupted for multiple impressive performances down the end of the year.

According to a recent piece by’s KL Chouinard, Prince put himself in elite company with his production after the break last year:

“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 [Taurean] Prince.”

Certainly, that’s impressive company. It also must be noted that three of those players are tasked with defending the opposing team’s best offensive player, which further denotes Prince’s importance to the future of the Atlanta Hawks.

While the continued development of Collins and the hopeful superstar turn for Young will lift this new rendition of the Hawks to new heights, the true barometer for the team’s success will be Prince.

If he can continue to improve from his stellar work late last year, Prince can morph into the Atlanta Hawks’ best player as well as a potential first-time All-Star in his third year in the league.

Don’t worry, he has our vote.

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