Zach Lowe on Tayshaun in Memphis

Grantland’s Zach Lowe is a fairly technical NBA observer, and in his latest league rundown, he twice mentions the Grizzlies and their newest acquisition, Tayshaun Prince.

He first discusses the issue of spacing, a topic that’s come up here and elsewhere in the context of the Prince trade:

Prince is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range, and he’s been especially good from the corners, but the notion that he would help Memphis loosen its spacing just a tick hasn’t played out yet. Prince has been operating a lot in the elbow area, often in a two-man game with Marc Gasol, and when he does spot up, he’s often a step inside the 3-point arc. And while he has shot well from deep, Prince needs time to lock and load, which means he’ll often pump-fake and take a step inside the line against aggressive closeouts. There’s a reason he barely attempts one 3 per game. But let’s give this new Grizz team some time to jell.

He has more to say about Prince and his new team later in the article:

Rudy Gay wasn’t exactly a knock-down 3-point shooter in Memphis, either, and when you watch the new Grizz, you can see how the front office might have envisioned Prince being more polished at all the cuts and screens and quick-decision passes inside the arc through which Memphis has long tried to manufacture spacing. Prince and Gasol have shown potential in a two-man game around the left elbow, and Prince can run a side pick-and-roll in a pinch.

Prince can also post up, with Gasol taking on Greg Monroe’s old role as Prince’s entry passer on the right side of the floor. And here’s a new wrinkle for Memphis: After delivering that entry pass, Gasol will amble across the foul line and to the left side of the floor, as if he’s clearing the right side for Prince to work. Zach Randolph will already be stationed on the left block, Gasol’s apparent destination, but as Gasol gets into the paint, Randolph will suddenly cut right around him, so that the two crisscross in the paint. It works as a kind of (legal) moving screen for Z-Bo, whom Prince can hit in the post for a close-range shot.

Memphis’s assist rate is up since the trade, but they started the season with three weeks of high-assist play that proved a blip.

As a native Michigander, I always will love the 2004-era Pistons, and if one of the members of that team was going to come and join the Grizzlies, I think Prince is the best option in 2013. Any team would love to add a Chauncey Billups or Rasheed Wallace (yes really), of course, but neither of those guys would fill a need for Memphis at this time. On the other side of the coin, Antonio McDyess is retired, Ben Wallace has washed out, and the once-tireless Rip Hamilton seemingly has become tired of being a great teammate.

Prince really is a perfect fit for this Grizz squad. He remains a very viable player in his eleventh year in the league, and he carries a very complimentary set of assets that would benefit any team on both ends of the court. As far as his personality, let’s just say most people are shocked when they remember he went to Kentucky. (Of course, some were somewhat belatedly shocked to learn of his recent transfer to Memphis.)

Barring any off-court distractions, Prince’s presence is going to fit right in and make these Grizzlies fun to watch down the stretch this season.

[Cross-posted from Grizzly Bear Blues. -Ed.]

One thought on “Zach Lowe on Tayshaun in Memphis

  1. More on Prince:

    “When Memphis acquired Tayshaun Prince in the blockbuster deal that sent Rudy Gay north of the border, there was very little excitement upon his arrival. The trade itself was largely about helping the Grizzlies’ financial situation for the future — not exactly the area where the average fan channels his or her excitement. Prince was simply considered a stopgap — a solid player with his best years behind him, brought in to improve the team’s spacing on offense and allow the Zach Randolph–Marc Gasol frontcourt duo to take center stage.

    “On the surface, Prince’s contributions have been in line with that expectation. The veteran forward has a PER of just 10.6 with averages of just 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game on a ho-hum 43.4 percent from the field. At 37.5 percent since arriving in Memphis, his 3-point shooting is a marked improvement from the departed Gay, but Prince attempts only one per game. There are two stats, however, that really stand out when evaluating what the ex-Piston has brought to his new digs — the Grizzlies’ 11-3 record and their stifling 90.8 defensive rating when Prince is on the court.

    “While both can be easily attributed to a soft schedule — the Grizzlies have played just four playoff teams in their recent stretch and only two of them possess offenses ranked in the top 10 — the latter figure is still mind-bending. For a player who looked slow and old in Detroit, Prince has been revitalized so far in Memphis.”

    Read the rest here: http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/53610/tayshaun-prince-and-the-grizzlies-stifling-defense.

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