COMMENTARY | Veteran forward Tayshaun Prince may be one of only three Memphis Grizzlies players to own an NBA championship ring, but it has become clear that his services are not what the franchise needs as it moves toward a championship of its own.
Prince was the cornerstone acquisition for the Grizzlies in an early-2013 trade that sent fan-favorite Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. At the time, many Memphis fans were encouraged by Prince's history as an elite defender and his leadership qualities. It has now become clear, though, that Tayshaun Prince truly is a misfit in Memphis' system.
Prince, who spent his entire career with the Detroit Pistons before being traded to Memphis, struggled to adapt to the Grizzlies' offensive game. With Memphis' scoring strategy focused on the powerhouse duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the paint, the Grizzlies had hoped Prince would satisfy the team's need for perimeter shooting.
However, with a lack of agility that soon became apparent, Prince struggled to find open shots and his 3-point field-goal percentage dropped significantly in the 2013 playoffs. With this development, Prince soon found himself near the bottom of the Grizzlies' offensive options.
Expectations for Prince's defensive abilities were also high, having been named to the NBA's all-defense second-team multiple times throughout his career. With the Grizzlies, however, Prince struggled to contain his defensive assignments. During the semifinals of the Western Conference playoffs in 2013, the Grizzlies opted for guard Tony Allen and bench player Quincy Pondexter to take on the assignment of guarding superstar Kevin Durant after Prince failed to do the job.
With multiple years remaining on his contract, totaling more than $14 million, the Memphis Grizzlies should consider whether or not 33-year-old Prince truly is the best option moving forward. If Memphis wishes to take its performance to the next level, it simply cannot rely on a misfit player as its starting small forward.
Nicholas Naveiras is a lifelong Memphian, college student, and diehard Memphis Grizzlies follower. He has followed the franchise's on- and off-court progress since 2001.
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