Grading Tayshaun Prince's Initial Games with the Memphis Grizzlies
In Tayshaun Prince, the Memphis Grizzlies weren't getting a $6.7 million man. Aside from the inherent cost of replacing Rudy Gay in a dump trade, the Grizz have a slight disappointment on hand. Prince isn't compensating much for the loss of scoring and defense.
No one could have expected Prince to make up for all of the loss of Gay's 17.2 points per game. However, Prince could have at least given a steady flow of scoring to plug some of the hole and prevent the rest of the supporting cast from having to do too much.
Prince has been fairly inconsistent in terms of scoring. He's scored in double figures in three of six games, which isn't quite what the Grizzlies need from a starter who's playing 32.2 minutes per game like Prince is. He has hit 40 percent from the field four times, which isn't too bad.
His overall shooting figure of 49.2 percent from the field is nice for these first five games, but that's from a slightly below-average 11 field-goal attempts per 36 minutes. He isn't used quite as much as one might wish. Prince takes 12 shots per 36 minutes on his career.
In general, his offensive activity isn't what the Grizzlies should get out of him. His 15.9 percent usage rate is just above a career low set in 2003-04. Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, his usage rate hung between 18.8 and 21 percent, which indicated that he was fairly active in the offense, but didn't demand the ball all the time.
Being a little too inactive in the offense and not shooting quite enough translates to the former Detroit Piston scoring 10.3 points per game, which is about two points fewer than what he should be averaging.
That also means that Tony Allen is working a little too hard to make up for the loss of scoring.
What's even more disappointing is that Prince isn't shooting enough from three-point range. Prince is an outstanding long-range shooter, hitting 37 percent for his career. He's shot even better this year, knocking down 43.1 percent, including 40 percent since joining the Grizzlies.
Despite his fine stroke, he only shoots 1.1 times per game for the season from beyond the arc and 0.8 per game while wearing the three shades of blue.
That's as much a knock on the Grizzlies' action beyond the arc as it is on his personal lack of interest in pushing this aspect of his game. He's only taken more than two threes per game twice. Memphis' last-place ranking in three-point field-goal attempts doesn't help him up his shooting frequency from that distance.
With Mike Conley and Austin Daye figuring as the only Grizz shooters taking multiple threes per game, it's hard to open up three-point opportunities for a 32-year-old who won't often take them on his own.
As for his defense, Prince is playing as well as he has in a long time, but it isn't quite enough. He's allowing 105 points per 100 possessions. That's two points better than his career average, but not quite what is expected on the best defense in the league.
Can Tayshaun Prince become an effective defender for the Grizzlies?
Indeed, Prince hadn't allowed even 106 points per 100 possessions since 2007-08. One can give him credit for that improvement. However, the Grizz aren't grinding with him on the court like they normally do. They allow a putrid 113 points per 100 possessions with him in the game, 7.5 more than when he's off the court.
Gay had allowed 101 points per 100 possessions, and Memphis allowed just 2.5 more with him on the floor. He could make plays—unlike Prince—and was generally not as much of a liability.
Of course, Gay had the athleticism that Prince doesn't have anymore.
Prince told The Commercial Appeal that he's at the point in his career where he doesn't have to prove anyone wrong. On the other hand, he's at the point where he has to prove people they're not right about his ability late in his career.
Many others surely question what Prince can do for the Grizz. The veteran needs to be able to pop a dozen points regularly. He's had his moments, like when he went 8-of-8 en route to 18 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, but he's also had a few lackluster performances.
The clean appearances need to be more common for this technically smart veteran.
Disclaimer: Statistics are current through Feb. 13 games. Advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.
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