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Tayshaun Prince’s slump bad enough to suggest big problems

So far this season, Tayshaun Prince is averaging 8.4 points per game on 36.1 percent shooting with 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists 0.5 steals and 0.3 blocks in 30.7 minutes per game.

Those numbers are poor by any standard: Prince’s career, a typical starting small forward,  a typical backup small forward.

Most troubling, 10 games is probably enough to indicate Prince’s struggles are real. Prince has played this poorly or just three other times in his career:

Prince obviously got over his rookie year to have an illustrious career, and he even got past January 2010 to become the Pistons’ best player last season.

I’m not sure what went wrong in January 2004, but Prince was still adjusting in his first year starting and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn about an off-court issue, too. Given what Prince accomplished the next several years, January 2004 was clearly an anomaly.

And that’s what worries me. With once exception, Prince has never played so poorly without an obvious explanation (youth, injury) that would likely get better.

Maybe Prince is injured, though he says otherwise. But you can’t count on a 31-year-old with heavy mileage’s knee to magically heal quickly, if ever.

Maybe Prince doesn’t fit with the Pistons’ offense, as he told Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press:

Prince doesn’t sound angry at his teammates or coach, or bitter about any of it. He is like a math prodigy who is waiting for the rest of the class to catch up.

"Right now, since we’re confused on both ends, we’re settling for jump shots," Prince said. "I’m taking shots that haven’t really come in the flow. They’re not rhythm shots."

This is especially frustrating for Prince, because he is a rhythm player. One reason he was so valuable in the Pistons’ contending days is that he fits so well with his teammates.

"I’ve never played like that," he said. "Before, even when I was at Kentucky, even when I first grew up playing basketball, that was never me. I’m good playing through the rhythm of our offense. Hopefully it will come. …

But you can’t count on the Pistons’ offense suddenly blooming.

I think it’s safe to say Prince’s problems are real, not a product of small sample size. He’ll likely improve later in the year. I can’t see him remaining this bad.

But I think there’s evidence his best days are behind him, maybe too far behind him.

5 Comments

  • Jan 12, 20124:05 pm
    by James

    Reply

    Well at least he’s in the last year of his contract.

    Wait, what?  We signed him to a 4 year extension before this season even though he lead a players revolt last year on a lottery bound team?

    I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I still have no idea why Joe Dumars signed him to a 4 year contract.

  • Jan 12, 20124:31 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    It is still too early to be saying any of this and Prince’s denial of an injury bothering him does not mean he isn’t being hindered,
    That said, when I think of Prince’s career, despite the obvious consistency when you look at his numbers throughout the years, it is remarkable that he was was not always playing the same role.
    In the beginning, even after the title, he barely ever touched the ball except to swing it and take rhythm jumpers.  On very, very rare occasions they would give him a look in the post where he instantly looked awesome, but they would only call the play once or twice a game.  They did have Williamson then.  Rip, Rasheed and even Chauncey, or maybe it was just the coaches, literally took years to actively try to get him involved in the offense and yet he put up basically the same numbers the past few years when he has been kind of like option A, B, C depending on the stretch of games.
    What has happened these first ten games from my perspective goes like this:
    1.  For all of the complaints of Prince not being deferential, he seems like the player who is getting Monroe involved the most and the one who is establishing the best chemistry with him.
    2.  Since the team is now becoming Monroe’s team, Prince is once again not getting as many touches in the post as he was the past few years and he is not nearly the garbage man he was when he was the fifth best starter,
    3. If Prince has really declined so much, how did he put around the same numbers as usual last season in fewer minutes while leading the league in FG% at the rim whereas Dwight Howard was second?
    4.  Prince is shooting a poor percentage in general but the team is turning the ball over so much without even getting into the offense that there are fewer opportunities and as the games have been blowouts, Prince is playing even less minutes.
    5. Give Prince back Stuckey, give the team fewer turnovers, keeping the game at least a little closer and giving the Pistons at least a little more rhythm and give Prince four more minutes and a little better FG pct and we are not even having this conversation.
    6. And this is all true whether Prince is hurt or not.
    7. Here is an HD video of Prince highlights from last year; watch it before saying how old and in decline he is.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjuOpfuDUKw

  • Jan 12, 20125:27 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    this is the problem with tay…
    on a title team, he was the 5th best starter.
    on the very good conference finals teams, he was either the 4th or 5th best starter.
    if, accepting the view that he was the team’s best player last year, he is your best player, your best starter, what does that say about the quality of the team and its other starters.
    not a very pleasant thought.

  • Jan 12, 20127:11 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    Feldman, I implore you to cut it out with all this suspect analysis that finds its way onto this blog. I know you make the blog and you make the rules, but the analysis is often so biased, so far from expert or even informed, that it undermines the credibility of an otherwise enjoyable site for Pistons news and opinions.
     
    Tayshaun is hobbled, operating in an awful system for his personal style, not particularly involved in the offense, and just a summer removed from one of his strongest statistical seasons.
     
    Much like your bogus rants about how Rip was finished or Hayes’s bogus rants about how Gordon was finished, you’re flat-out ignoring several, if not many, crucial factors and using incomplete information to craft arguments that support ill-founded opinions. I happen to be of the opinion that none of these three are “finished,” but the bottom line is that there are so many uncontrollable and unfavorable variables working against these guys that nobody could form credible arguments that they’re washed up just yet. This really bothers me.

    • Jan 12, 20129:18 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      A few things:

      First, I never wrote that Ben Gordon was finished, just that he was overrated coming out of Chicago and not worth $12 million per year. I stand by that.

      “Tayshaun is hobbled, operating in an awful system for his personal style, not particularly involved in the offense, and just a summer removed from one of his strongest statistical seasons.”

      You continually say this. It is wrong. His FT and 3-pt percentages were near career lows. He rarely got to the line. He had one of the worst rebounding seasons of his career. His overall counting stats were about the same as they always are because he had by far the highest usage rate of his career. His season wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anywhere near his strongest statistical season based on measure that actually mean something.

      “the analysis is often so biased, so far from expert or even informed, that it undermines the credibility of an otherwise enjoyable site for Pistons news and opinions.”

      This is an opinion piece supported with data that Dan believes supports his argument. That’s what opinion pieces do. If you disagree, fine, provide credible evidence to the contrary. How is the premise, that this is by far the worst 10 game stretch of Prince’s career, wrong? And further, having that stretch at age 31 could be a signal that Prince is on the decline, couldn’t it?

      “Much like your bogus rants about how Rip was finished or Hayes’s bogus rants about how Gordon was finished, you’re flat-out ignoring several, if not many, crucial factors and using incomplete information to craft arguments that support ill-founded opinions.”

      How many games has Hamilton played this year? What’s his 3-pt %? How often is he getting to the line? What’s Gordon’s shooting percentage this year? I don’t think there’s enough evidence yet to definitively say anything about any of the three players you mention, but you certainly can’t rule out that any of the three are on the decline. In Gordon’s and Hamilton’s case, they certainly haven’t returned to any kind of old form minus the excuses that were supposedly holding them back.

      I find it extremely entertaining that someone who expresses some of the most reactionary, baseless, over-the-top and (sometimes) insulting thoughts on this site objects so thoroughly to Dan essentially writing that Prince/Hamilton are old and that might explain why their play is on a downward trend.

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