The Brooklyn Nets got a quick start on their offseason on Thursday night, acquiring wing Taurean Prince in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks.
In return, the Nets sent fellow wing Allen Crabbe and a couple of first-round picks back to the Hawks.
Of course, while Prince is a decent player, the biggest part of this deal is Brooklyn unloading Crabbe and his $18.5 million salary for next season, giving the Nets enough cap room to sign a pair of max free agents this summer.
But, for now, let’s focus on Prince himself, who will absolutely help the Nets.
Prince is basically what DeMarre Carroll was a few years back: a solid three-and-D guy who can guard multiple positions and plays the game with a brand of toughness that Brooklyn sorely needs.
The 25-year-old had a nice season in 2018-19, averaging 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and one steal over 28.2 minutes per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor, 39 percent from three-point range and 81.9 percent from the free-throw line.
The Nets sure could have used that type of production in the playoffs rather than giving minutes to Treveon Graham and Rodions Kurucs, both of whom looked out of their element against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
Prince will be able to slide right into Brooklyn’s starting lineup, and while we obviously don’t know what the Nets’ roster will look like a few months from now, he will basically take the place of Carroll as Brooklyn’s primary wing defender.
The most important thing to note about Prince is his improving efficiency, as his true-shooting percentage has jumped from 51.3 percent in his rookie year back in 2016-17 to 57.5 percent this season, putting him above league average in that category.
Also, while one may see Prince as a guy who is mainly a spot-up shooter, because that’s usually what three-and-D guys are, that isn’t the case. He is a player who can actually put the ball on the floor and create his own shot, and while he is still very raw in that regard and doesn’t exactly have a big arsenal of moves, he is getting better, and with a full summer ahead of him, he should improve even more for 2019-20.
For a Nets team that ranked 14th in defense and 14th in three-point percentage (right in line with their equally middling record of 42-40), Prince should be a boon to the club on both ends of the floor, providing them with a versatile defender who can step out and switch on pick-and-rolls and who can provide them with a somewhat reliable scorer outside of D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, something Brooklyn clearly needs.
Of course, the Nets are far from done making moves, and for all we know, Russell might not even be on the team next season. Maybe they land Kemba Walker. Maybe they sign Kyrie Irving. Or maybe they come back with virtually the same squad with some tweaks here and there?
No one knows for sure, but what we do know is that Prince will unquestionably make the Nets better in areas where they blatantly needed improvement, and that is a good start to the summer for Sean Marks and the rest of Brooklyn’s front office.