Ever since the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for Rudy Gobert, nobody has questioned their talent level. However, obtaining Gobert meant dumping veteran guard Patrick Beverley, a vocal leader who held everyone from coaches to teammates accountable. Something this Wolves team hadn’t had for quite some time.
“Who would fill Beverley’s role as that vocal leader?” has been a widely asked question. Tim Connelly also traded Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Utah Jazz, two guys who brought the consistent energy that this Wolves team strived for last year. With those three gone, who will take over the role of being a primary leader on both sides of the ball and bring that consistent energy?
That’s where Taurean Prince will be making his largest impact this season. Prince has been rounding out this Wolves team from both sides incredibly well and has been a constant force when things have gotten tough.
Floor Spacing & Offensive Ability
Being able to space the floor on a team with Gobert and Anthony Edwards is crucial. Prince has been Minnesota’s most dependable three-point shooter this season, shooting 12 for 21 (57%) from beyond the arc. TP has been at his best when moving freely on the floor, rotating to open corners.
Although Prince is coming off the bench, he plays a good chunk of his minutes with the starters, primarily next to D’Angelo Russell and Gobert. With the number of pick-and-rolls that DLo and Rudy run, having guys like Prince on the floor is a nice luxury to have when teams begin to crash the paint.
Prince can space the floor. He’s a 37% career three-point shooter. However, TP has improved greatly in handling the ball in transition, setting up for his teammates, and initiating his own offense. Pat Bev also did all of that very well for the Wolves.
When looking back on Minnesota’s 116-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the team’s third game of the season, Prince’s impact on offense was on full display – especially in the fourth quarter.
Above, you see TP hit back-to-back triples and find Naz Reid a few times. Here he’s running with what has been one of my favorite lineups of the year: Jordan McLaughlin, Edwards, Jaylen Nowell, Prince, and Reid.
On the first night of a back-to-back, Chris Finch went to this lineup in hopes to spark a dormant Wolves offense without taking Towns, Gobert, or Russell off the bench. They created a spark in the fourth, putting away the Thunder after OKC made it close heading into the final frame. That was thanks in large part to the effort shown by Prince, who finished with 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists on 3 of 5 from three (60%) and 4 of 8 from the floor (50%).
Defense, Grittiness, and Energy
On top of his offensive prowess, Prince has been Minnesota’s most aggressive defender, playing with a similar amount of energy that Beverley does.
Standing at 6’7”, Prince has the ability to match up with 1 through 4’s comfortably. You could even throw some small ball 5s into the mix of who TP could put the clamps down on.
Even though TP botched the layup above, this defensive set does a great job of showing how Prince makes his impact felt. He comes in to help DLo, who got beat off the dribble, and crowds Austin Reaves on his drive attempt, which leads to yet another Timberwolves fast break. It feels like TP has already pushed the ball in transition more six games into this season than he did all of last year.
Prince is also willing to put his body on the line when opposing players are attacking the rim in the form of drawing a charge or rising up to block a shot. It’s something he’s done very well his whole career.
With Beverley’s departure, Prince’s importance has grown immensely. From hitting a big triple to pushing the pace or blocking a player who’s much taller than him, TP has been all over the court. He will continue to be a big part of what this Wolves team is trying to build this season and hopefully for many more years to come.