For the rest of the month, we'll be previewing some prospects that the Raptors could consider taking with the ninth pick in the NBA Draft. Today we take a look at Taurean Prince from Baylor.
Baylor (SR) - 6'8 - 220 lbs - born August, 1994
16 PPG - 6 RPG - 2.3 APG - 0.7 BLK - 1.2 STL (43%-36%-77% splits)
Taurean Prince is one of my favourite prospects in this year's draft. I tend to be a sucker for the productive, positionally-malleable and two-way players that the draft has to offer and Prince is one of the most intriguing ones this year. Over the course of his four years at Baylor, Prince's productivity and usage increased each season, culminating in a senior season that saw him become one of the best players in the Big-12.
Physically, Prince looks the part of an NBA 3 and small-ball 4 in certain units. Standing 6'8, weighing 220 lbs, with a 7-foot wingspan, he has the prototypical size and strength for the NBA. It's easy to look at Prince and make the lazy comparisons to fellow dreadlocked defense-first, role-playing wings like DeMarre Carroll and Jae Crowder, but there are notable similarities in their games. While Prince won't wow you offensively with his athleticism or scoring instinct, he's a smart player when it comes to moving the ball, finding pockets of space to operate in, and being a dependable jump shooter. Defensively, his size, mobility and lateral movement allowed him to guard virtually every position on the floor for Baylor and is a prototypical player you'd want in the construct of position-less basketball.
There was a notable drop-off in Prince's efficiency between his junior and senior seasons. His TS% went from a highly impressive 57 down to a 53.7 as his usage rate remained mostly the same. Prince's role evolved drastically in his last year at Baylor. He went from being an off-ball option to the primary source of offence, and as a result, his FG% fell from 47% to 43%. I'd actually argue that it was good for his development that he was forced to be a shot creator and play-maker for his teammates. While he isn't a naturally gifted playmaker, he's more than capable of handling the ball, and being trusted to make smart decisions at this point in his career.
Taurean Prince is a personal favourite of mine, and the beauty of his game is that it fits anywhere. With the dearth of two-way wings in the NBA, and how much teams struggle to find cheap options outside of the draft, Taurean Prince theoretically gives you the kind of option behind Carroll that this roster currently doesn't have. Norman Powell, Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan can't be relied upon to guard 4s at any point in time, and that's a quality most teams look for in their wing players. Not to get carried away, but it'd also afford the Raptors the flexibility of occasionally playing small with Carroll and Prince simultaneously in spurts. Does he fit? How can he not?
While I love the fit and firmly believe that you can never have enough smart, tough, multi-faceted players like Taurean Prince, it is a bit of a stretch to justify it at #9 overall. The Raptors won't have a top-10 pick for some time (hopefully), so you'd hope they use this opportunity to swing for the fences while they still can. Taurean Prince is a high ceiling, low risk player that makes sense for the Raptors to look at if he's available at 27. At 9, it's probably a reach, and they'd be better served looking for more upside.
What do you think?