Archives For Taurean Prince

Hawks Rave About Taurean Prince

Eric Yeboah —  November 17, 2016

The second night of a back-to-back game usually requires much more production from a bench. The Hawks bench, currently ranked fifth in bench scoring, has been one of the league’s best thus far. In their sixth straight victory they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 without the services of Dwight Howard (quad) and Thabo Sefolosha (knee). The starters appeared sluggish and out of sync in the first quarter, shooting just 35 percent from the field, prompting Coach Budenholzer to quickly turn to his backups.

The Hawks began the second quarter trailing 26-21 until a SportsCenter top-10 dunk along the baseline by rookie Taurean Prince jumpstarted a 19-0 run.

“I thought Tauren was great,” Budenholzer said postgame. “Just the physicality he plays with, the aggressiveness he plays with, really gave us a big boost on both ends of the court.”

“That was really nice,” said Mike Muscala of Prince’s dunk. “I was pretty surprised, I did not see that coming. He’s going to be a really good player.”

Picked 12th in this year’s draft, many may have been expecting more appearances this season from Prince. However, with a veteran like Sefolosha that Bud can trust and the sharp shooting Tim Hardaway Jr has displayed, Prince has been forced to remain patient, but ready. He was just that on Wednesday night, logging eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes of action.

“In my opinion the best teacher is experience,” Prince said. ” For me to get out there with the guys. We put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes that people don’t see. I am ready for the opportunity, whatever opportunity I can continue to get, I will continue to take advantage of it.”

The opportunities will be fed to Prince gradually as the season progresses under a Budenholzer that has a tendency to keep young wings on a short leash. Tim Hardaway Jr and Kent Bazemore both are examples of what happens when a organization takes time in laying out a program that makes a concerted effort to truly deduce — to a science — a player’s strengths and weaknesses, along with what steps need to be taken in order for him to maximize his talent.

“Just another testament of the Atlanta Hawks player development system,” said Bazemore on Prince’s play on Wednesday night. “A guy works hard every day and when he gets his name called he’s ready. That’s one of his [Taurean] greatest attributes is he’s fearless, he’s out there chirping, hitting people, finishing above the rim and that’s his game. It’s good when you can get a young fella this early in his career and be that confident.”

Confidence is what got him to the league — it’s part of what drew the Hawks to him and it’s also how he will gain minutes going further. The untapped potential he possesses, along with his high tenacity level, is a coach’s dream, especially to a true teacher of the game like Budenholzer. Prince, like any other rookie, is still grasping schemes, counters and what making the right play at this level entails, but if Wednesday night is any indication, his ascension has only just hit its genesis.

His dunk is a must see, a show stopper and one of the most exciting plays the Hawks have executed this year. But that alone won’t keep him on the floor — playing the Hawks’ brand of basketball will.

“Anybody that comes into our team you kind of have to learn how we play, said Korver. Its not about just having talent and attacking the basket, there’s a method to the madness. He’s got a lot of natural ability and talent. For him, I told him at half time his best play was when he drove to the basket and whipped it to Tim for the shot. I told him that was your best play, not the big awesome dunk that you had, which was incredible. He’s just got to keep feeling how we play and I think that is a great play to go back and review.”

 

Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

Oh my goodness, it’s finally here. Even if it’s only preseason, Atlanta Hawks basketball is back!

Tipping off in Memphis on Thursday, we’ll finally be able to get a look at the Hawks in a — somewhat — competitive environment. This is definitely the most I, and I’m sure many others, have been looking forward to seeing the Hawks in action in a while given the summer they had — letting Al Horford go, trading Jeff Teague, signing Dwight Howard and giving the point guard reigns to Dennis Schröder. I am fascinated to see how the overall jigsaw is going to assemble on the court.

I’m not sure how many preseason games are actually going to be broadcasted (be it from the Hawks’ side or from their opposition’s side), but here are some things to look out for when you are watching them in action.

How Dwight Howard fits into the offense

On the face of it, I would not call Dwight Howard a Hawks-y type of player. He’s not a very diverse player on the offensive end (limited to mostly dunks and post moves, the latter seeing varying levels of success), he’s not the greatest passer of the ball (certainly not as a good of a passer than Al Horford was/is), he can’t stretch the floor like Horford did with his mid-range/three-point shot and he bogs down his team’s offensive flow when he is hacked, due to teams wanting to take advantage of his very poor free throw shooting percentages.

I was shocked when the I heard the Hawks had agreed a deal to sign Dwight and I’ve tried to talk myself into the thought of him as a Hawk and there’s certainly a decent case to make for Dwight Howard as a Hawk. We’ve talked about it to no end but now it’s finally time to see it in action.

I have so many questions:

How will Dwight actually fit into this complex offense that the Hawks run? Is he going to be as willing of a passer as Horford was? Is he going to be invested into the system where it’s about “we” not “I”? Will we see him dip into that expanded mid-range game we’ve seen him practise all summer with his shooting coach, Lethal Shooter? Can he knock down that shot in real game situations? Undoubtedly — not through “hack-a” mind you, unless teams are feeling very mean in preseason — we will see Dwight at the free throw line at some stage. Will he give any indication, any confidence, that his free throw percentage is going to increase this season, enough to the point where teams think twice about hacking him? How will his rim-rolling help the Hawks’ offense? What will it open up for his teammates? Will pick-and-rolls involving him help free up the shooters, like Kyle Korver?

We’re not going have all our Dwight Howard questions answered right now, but the picture should be a little clearer once preseason is over.

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The recent police killings of Keith Scott and Terrence Crutcher have rocked this nation once again giving credence to the actions of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s intentions are to challenge the sacred American flag that is supposed to represent equality and liberty. As an athlete he’s chosen not to take the easy route by counting his millions and staying silent like so many of his opposers would like for him to do. On one of the most exciting days in franchise history for basketball reasons, the Atlanta Hawks team chose not to remain silent on the current state of America.

“Hopefully we’ve started a conversation with our players, not just what’s going on with the national anthem but what’s happening in our country, said a thoughtful Coach Budenholzer Monday. We will be incredibly in support of our players. I think the more thoughtful– the more respectful we can be, if we are those two things our country can will be better.”

If anyone on the team ever needed to speak with a victim of police brutality face to face then Thabo Sefolosha would have plenty to talk about after his 2015 nightclub incident with the NYPD. Thabo was falsely accused, attacked (which led to a broken fibula and ligament damage to his ankle) and arrested outside 1 Oak’s nightclub where former Pacer Chris Copeland had been stabbed. So when Sefolosha saw the video footage of Terence Crtucher being gunned down, it immediately brought him back to that night in New York and caused him to feel fortunate.

“I think it’s been a problem and keeps happening and its sad to see. To be honest looking at some of the footage we see with the guy in Tulsa and charlotte I feel lucky to be here and be able to talk about what happened to me.”

Like Thabo, when veteran Jarrett jack first saw the shooting of Terrence Crutcher a sense of “oh not again” accompanied his other initial emotions.

“Man it’s a combination of things like confusion, anger and sadness Its hard to understand when you apply logic to the situation and try to understand where it causes for that type of force to be applied in these instances. You look at it and understand that it was wrong but then it becomes a constant situation where it’s becoming repetitive and we end up getting the same result. We get causality and someone that doesn’t seem to want to take the responsibility for the actions that were taken.

Those like Philando Castile, Alton Sterling,and the remaining 796 victims in 2016 unfortunately weren’t lucky enough to tell their story like Thabo. We will never hear their voices again, which prompts millions of Americans everywhere who feel silenced; to look to professional athletes like Kaepernick, to denounce injustice on a large platform. Three-point specialist Kyle Korver has embraced the responsibility to do just that whether people believe an athlete should or should not.

“It’s a great opportunity for athletes to have a voice in this. I guess some people say that we shouldn’t but there are a lot of people out there that have asked us to be role models. I think that there are problems in this country and that athletes can have a role in this conversation. Its up to us to continue to educate ourselves”

Not every athlete feels its necessary to speak about this particular issue. A stance Michael Jordan was greatly criticized for taking throughout his career until this summer when he ended his silence in a self written piece for ESPN’s undefeated. Charles Barkley’s “I am not a role model” commercial in 1993 sparked many debates around the country on whether or not athletes are unfairly burdened with pressures to always conform to the opinions of the people.

Hawks rookie Taurean Prince has chosen to take this route for the time being not solely because he may feel it’s not an athletes place, but more so a lack of personal experience.

“Man I worry about me and mines, I worry about what I can do to control the things that I can control in my life. Obviously that stuff has affected the people of my culture but at the same time it hasn’t affected me personally so I really don’t get into that stuff. I just shut my mouth and keep it moving until it directly affects me or my family then I’ll decide to speak on it”

Recent signee Will Bynum, a Chicago native, at 33 years old surely has plenty first hand experience of witnessing police conducting themselves inappropriately. But For Bynum he’s looking at all that factors that stricken his cities socioeconomic path towards peace. When your government officials fail the education system, when the culture of policing views you as a number instead of a human being, when family structures are fragile, you end up with a sense of loss hope that becomes contagious. In Bynum’s eyes those who are fortunate enough to leave, secure their families financially and reach a high level of success should make time to return to their neighborhood to instill belief.

“As far as the successful guys that come from the city, they have to come back. A lot of guys get out of it and then they don’t come back, but its what we should do, said a passionate Bynum. We come from there and only we can articulate what’s really going on, because nobody really understands us. Like they are saying we can shut down every single public school, but they do not understand these kids in the radius of five blocks are crossing 5 different gangs so they are not going to go to school. Especially if your mother is working 9-5 everyday, she cant make you be there, so its critical we provide more opportunities for the city and guys like myself come back and give the knowledge that it took to make it out”

 

Full interview with Will Bynum here

 

In a city with one of the highest African-American population in the country, in the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, a community that never hesitates to protest when they sense inequality; this Hawks team has already taken this issue head on a month before the season begins. Media day for Atlanta could of easily been consumed by the acquisition of Dwight, Kent Bazemore deciding to return, Dennis Schroder becoming a starter; but more importantly these players looked eager and prepared to discuss a topic that’s very emotional to those susceptible to it every single day of their lives. Athletes who are socially and outspoken used to be taboo throughout American history,now its imperative.

 

“As athletes we stand for equality and treating everyone fairly. Thats what this hawks organization is about”, said a confident Kris Humphries

Feature Image: Bart Young/NBAE/Getty Images

With an 89-79 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last night, the Atlanta Hawks wrapped their Summer League adventure. Taurean Prince, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Isaia Cordinier were all rested but the Hawks still managed to get the job done, and wrapped up their Las Vegas trip with a 4-2 record.

This seems like a good opportunity to go over how well Atlanta’s draft selections got on in their first taste of NBA basketball. Well, NBA-ish basketball, there’s an awful lot of guys who (sadly) won’t be on rosters, but anyways… Oh, we’ll also talk about Edy too.

Before we get cracking, I’d be remiss to mention Lamar Patterson at this point, who I thought played very well in the three games he played before he was waived. He has been claimed off of the waiver wire by the Sacramento Kings, so that’s good news for LP. Ha-ha, well, good that a team claimed him, maybe not good that it’s Sacramento. Anyways, all the best, Lamar.

If you’re interested in how players like Brandon Ashley, Kevin Pangos etc. got on for the Hawks during Summer League, you can check out the team’s stats here. Also, I know Lamar Patterson got cut during Summer League, but there’s no need to not type his name out. He exists, you know. Ah, forget it…

(Just one more piece of housekeeping, just a heads up there’s a lot of footage to be shown today. Not so much analysing/breaking down footage, but more so just showing it, but just a heads up)

Taurean Prince

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Feature Image: David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images

Behind an awful second half, the Atlanta Hawks were defeated 60-71 by the Washington Wizards in Las Vegas Summer League. The Hawks, who led by at least 17 points in the third quarter, were outscored 46-23 in the second half (which included a 30-8 Washington run) and 26-12 in the fourth quarter.

The loss means the Hawks will not advance to the quarter finals of the tournament phase, but their run in Vegas is not over yet. They will now duke it out with Memphis in the consolation bracket later today, 8 p.m ET.

Although the final result is a disappointing one, there were plenty of positives to be had. Specifically, the performances of Edy Tavares and Taurean Prince.

The Edy Tavares Show

Edy Tavares put on a shot blocking clinic yesterday with five blocked shots, four of which came in the first half. Apparently the Wizards didn’t get the 7″3 warning not to come into Atlanta’s paint…

Check out Edy’s highlight reel from this game, oh my goodness, there were some absolute gems…

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Feature Image: Bart Young/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks advanced to the round of 16 of the Las Vegas Summer League as they dispatched the Sacramento Kings 81-61. The win sets up a meeting with the Washington Wizards, a team the Hawks have already beaten in Las Vegas.

Thankfully this was a much more entertaining game than the Nets game was, with a 1000 less fouls called (although, to make up, there were 1000 more turnovers committed), and a number of players bounced back with strong performances after struggling against Brooklyn.

Taurean Prince recorded a game high 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 2-for-2 from behind the arc, while also cashing in on all nine of his free throw attempts. He also collected nine rebounds.

He looked great yesterday, looked really confident when it came to shooting the ball, and was easily the best player on the court. He was super fun to watch yesterday.

DeAndre’ Bembry also had a good bounce back game — 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including this tasty dunk all over Willie Cauley-Stein.

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Feature Image: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

The Hawks dropped yesterday’s contest with the Brooklyn Nets — 65-72 — in what was, let’s be honest, a pretty ugly affair with about a thousand foul calls. After five Hawks (now 2-1 in Vegas) scored in double figures against the Wizards, only two could do so yesterday, Brandon Ashley leading the way with 11 points — no one played particularly well at all.  We’ll get to the other Hawk who scored in double digits in a second…

Before we do that though, a quick shoutout to former Hawks assistant and new Brooklyn Nets head coach, Coach Kenny Atkinson, who’s coaching the Nets’ Summer League team and they look like a very well drilled side, much more organised than the two sides the Hawks faced prior to the Nets — Houston and Washington. So, props to you, Coach Atkinson.

Taurean Prince makes his Hawks debut

Despite no one playing that well for the Hawks, there’s (thankfully) something to talk about and that is the debut of the 12th overall pick of the draft, Taurean Prince, who finally received clearance from the league to play, after the trade sending Jeff Teague to Indiana was finalized. He scored 10 points and came up with four steals in just under 23 minutes of action.

Before the game, it was unclear how much we would see of Prince, or if we would see him at all since he hadn’t been allowed to so much as practise with the team until that trade was finalized (which it was just before this game). Because Prince hadn’t been able to practise, it was rumoured that his debut might was going to be pushed back to Wednesday — so that he would at least have a training session to acclimate himself on the court — but that wasn’t the case and we got to see him in action yesterday.

I’m not going to say he played outstandingly well, but he did pretty well considering that he went out there having not had the opportunity to practise with his teammates and having to figure things out on the fly. Some of his shots were a bit un-Hawksy, but that’s to be expected when you haven’t been able to practise.

Let’s go through some of the good things Prince did yesterday.

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Coming into draft night the Atlanta Hawks had several questions to answer after shipping Jeff Teague to his hometown Pacers just a day earlier for the 12th pick. The move that helps Atlanta sign Horford and possibly bring back Bazemore. Atlanta struggled much of this season rebounding and taking care of the ball, with an undersized frontcourt and unsettling backcourt debate. However, just as detrimental as those deficiencies were, the lack of youth and athleticism were just as apparent.

 

Free agent Kent Bazemore was that youthful bright spot in the backcourt bringing energy, athleticism, intensity and shooting; but he will surely be sought after this summer and once again put the Hawks back in familiar predicament searching for a multidimensional asset at either the SG or SF position.

 

Despite how the draft unfolded, Hawks GM Wes Wilcox reassured importance of Kent Bazemore to this team.

 

Wilcox and Coach Mike Budenholzer elected to address those needs in this draft by selecting Taurean Prince (6’6) and DeAndre Bembry(6’8), Two hard working individuals that possess not only athleticism, but the ability to score in a variety of ways that fit the hawks system, qualities that were glaringly missing as LeBron and company swept their season away once again. As they’ve shown in the past, the possibility of losing their most versatile player (like demarre last summer) prompted their decision to draft these two in hopes they too embrace and flourish within Budenholzers developmental system like Bazemore.

Wilcox talks about the focus of this draft

 

Prince averaged 15 points (leading scorer) and 6 rebounds per game leading Baylor to the NCAA tournament, where they were upset in the first round by 12th seed Yale. His versatility fits right into the scheme coach Bud employs, he prefers players like Demarre Carroll and Thabo Sefolosha, who are interchangeable between either the 2 or 3 spot. Prince compares mostly to Demarre because of his 6”11 wingspan and lateral quickness that assist in his effectiveness as defender. Offensively, Prince may be limited somewhat as a ballhandler, but the ability to knock down the three point shot, mainly catch n shoot, was apparent in the loss versus Yale as he went 4-7 from beyond. Prince can contribute right away by being that high motor disrupter defensively and floor spreader offensively that we saw at Baylor. Despite his troubles creating opportunities for himself off the dribble right now; Budenholzer’s system doesn’t require that skillset from his wings, it highlights everything Prince is made of.

 

The A-10 Player of the Year, Deandre Bembry, provides the hawks with more playmaking, more versatility defensively along with a team-oriented mindset that coincides with Atlanta’s concept. Because of his ballhandling skills and quickness, he has a knack of finding the seams in defenses comfortably, thus creating opportunities for himself and others. In his final year as a St. Joseph Hawk, Bembry was only one of three players in the nation to average at least 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4 assist, Ben Simmons and Denzel Valentine were the others two.

 

“He’s a good Hawks fit. He can handle, he can pass, and he’s unselfish. He is an exceptionally great passer, said Wilcox.

 

Deandre talks about his versatility

 

Shooting currently is his biggest obstacle, consisting of his mechanics (slow release and shoots on the way down) shot selection and three point woes(just 26% last season). Luckily for him, Hawks shooting coach Ben Sullivan has done a remarkable job with Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha; but even more notably he played a large part in Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard’s development as shooters during his time in San Antonio. He will surely have his work cut out for him with Bembry as a shooter, but his all around game fits just right.

 Lets be honest, neither one of these guys were what many Hawks fans expected. But they are definitely what were needed.

 

“We are confident in the work we’ve done and the time we put in to this”, said a smiling Wes Wilcox post-draft.

Photo cred: Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty Images

It’s been a wild couple of days.

The Hawks managed to secure themselves the 12th overall pick to add to their own 21st pick. But it came at a cost: Jeff Teague is gone, headed to Indiana in the same deal will send George Hill to Utah and (from Utah) the 12th overall pick to Atlanta. Now, the trade hasn’t been made official yet (and probably won’t until July), so the Hawks can’t actually confirm Prince as their draft pick, but you can take it on good faith that the Jazz selected for the Hawks last night.

12th overall pick

With the 12th pick the Hawks drafted Taurean Prince out of Baylor. I was ecstatic with the Hawks selecting Prince, I think he’s an excellent fit for the Hawks, possessing a lot of tools that the Hawks like in their wing players.

From Part 2 of our Hawks Draft Preview:

Prince, meanwhile, possesses very good height for a small forward, standing 6’8 tall (with a 6’11.5 wingspan to boot). He looks great physically, with a strong frame to accompany his other strong physical attributes. Prince’s size and his long arms would also help the Hawks improve a facet of their game that could always do with improvement — rebounding.

He’s exactly the kind of wing the Hawks need — defense, three-point shooting, defensive length (6’11.5 ft), legitimate size (6’8) — and I can envision him playing a significant role for the team next season. I’m a firm believer that he’s going to be a (possibly very) good defender, but it’s worth noting that Baylor did play a zone defense so we don’t have the full picture when it comes to Prince’s defense, but I have no reason to doubt it.

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