In the first installment of Free Agency Previews, ClipperBlog examines the case for and against signing one of 2011′s (soon-to-be 2012′s) marquee free agents, Tayshaun Prince.
Tayshaun Prince, SF
The gist: Prince possesses an impressive combination of length, athleticism, defensive ability, efficiency and pedigree stretched into his 6’9, 215 lb. frame. He’s a veteran and upmost professional, capable of scoring 12-15 points per night while simultaneously clamping down on the opposing team’s top offensive threat (he held small forwards to a 12.2 PER last season). Although he’s been a mainstay in Detroit, it appears he no longer wants to be a part of the rebuilding project.
The case for: Despite posting a mediocre 15.2 career PER, Prince is one of the game’s more efficient players on both ends of the floor, seldom making mistakes. He’s a defensive stopper that barely fouls, ranking second in foul rate, and is a smart decision-maker on offense, ranking second in turnover ratio at his position. According to HoopData, his 77.5 percent shooting at the rim lead the league this season, clearly implying he would thrive in an uptempo, fast break system. Ideally, he would serve as both the Clippers’ third or fourth offensive option (career 12.9 PPG) and the team’s top defender.
The case against: He’s 31 years old, will likely have a high asking price on the free market, and has chronic back problems. For all of his finishing prowess, Prince only takes three shots per game at the rim. Instead, he chooses to primarily take mid-range jumpers (6.7 attempts per game between 10-23 feet), shooting in the high 30s and low 40s from that area. Thus Prince may not turn the ball over frequently, but he takes inefficient shots. He doesn’t solve the Clippers’ dire need of outside shooting either, making just 0.7 3-pointers per game for his career. And, most importantly, his defense has declined slightly in recent seasons.