Ive been suffering from extreme writers block trying to figure out which how I wanted to write this Tayshaun Prince post out. But I've decided to break this down into three pieces: the regular season, the postseason and what's to come: So here we go.
Here's how Prince became a Memphis Grizzly:
While the national media complained about the trade, claimed the Grizzlies traded a "budding superstar in Gay", and all the other things they thought Rudy Gay was (spoiler alert: he wasn't those things), the Grizz got a nice haul in Ed Davis being the future piece, but Prince representing the now.
To be clear, no one expected Prince to replicate Gay's stats. He's not the player he was during the prime of his career. But he did what everyone wanted Gay to do which is play within the offense. Remember when Rudy Gay went down in 2011 and the Grizzlies brought in Shane Battier to replace him? That's the role he played. Here are the regular season stats:
|2012 - Tayshaun Prince||82||32.1||4.4||10.0||43.8||0.5||1.1||40.4||1.2||1.6||73.8||0.9||3.6||4.4||2.4||1.1||0.6||0.3||1.0||
While the numbers aren't outstanding, Prince became the perfect glue guy. He allowed the stars to be effective while not missing a beat. The Grizzlies went 27-10 with Tayshaun Prince in the lineup. Everything was perfect. Then it was time for the postseason.
Here are his numbers by series:
The numbers are a great representation of Prince's play in the postseason. He just wasn't good. While he struggled against the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, he wasn't a disservice to the team, but the moment the Griz stepped up against the juggernaut in Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs he became a burden.
Speaking of Oklahoma City Thunder we can't forget that this happened (!!!):
His lack of an perimeter game, whether it meant hitting the open jumpshot or creating his own shot, became a huge problem (insert Rudy Gay joke here). Prince shot 29.4 percent from mid-range in the playoffs. He was best against Kevin Durant. It allowed him to lock in, but outside of that, he was the equivalent to Shane Battier against the Thunder during the 2011 NBA Playoffs: not very good.
What's To Come:
I was having a discussion with a friend about the NBA and as we were speaking on the Grizzlies he asked me if I could go back in time would I re-do the Rudy Gay-Tayshaun Prince trade all over again. My answer: yes.
The trade had less to do with Prince than most realize. We got to see that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol could be the faces of this franchise without Gay. We got to see them do more with more pressure on their backs and the defense focusing in on them every night. Prince was just the piece of the puzzle.
And now, heading into the 2013-14 season, there are a lot of questions with Prince. Do you start him? Do you trade him? Does he become a reserve player. If you ask me it's either make him a key reserve or try to unload him unto another team.
Making him a key reserve is the better option than trading him because it'll come with less hassle. Unless the Grizzlies sign a stud shooter i.e. Kyle Korver or JJ Redick, the starting five will likely be Conley - Allen - Pondexter - Randolph - Gasol. Pondexter's playoff performance was enough to thrust him into the lineup. He deserves it. Putting Prince alongside Tony Wroten, Ed Davis and the bunch allows him to keep that group in order. Wroten still needs to get his game under control and that's where Prince comes in, playing his normal role of the point forward.
The problem with him being a bench player is that he'd be logging 20-25 minutes per game while being paid $7 million a year over the next two seasons. This is where the "trade him" thought comes in. Moving Prince brings cap flexibilty and the option to add a high quality free agent, but if your asking someone to take 33 year old forward on the downside of his career you're going to have to throw in a draft pick or Davis/Wroten and I'm not for that. Well the draft pick would be fine, but I'm not completely sold on giving up on either of them yet.
Despite all the critics yapping about how the Grizzlies messed up trading Rudy Gay, the Tayshaun Prince integration was a huge part of this teams success. His regression during the playoffs may have thrown a wrench in some of the future plans, but he was a huge piece in this team making the Western Conference Finals.
General Grizznosity: B. He fit the Grit-and-Grind mantra well. He also dunked on 5000 members of the Oklahoma City Thunder so that notches it up to a B.
Clutch Performance: D