Cavs: 3-and-D abilities are key with Taurean Prince acquisition

Taurean Prince was a piece acquired via trade by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

I applaud Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and the squad for getting involved in what turned out to be the four-team trade centered on James Harden being dealt by the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

That deal also involved the Indiana Pacers, but from the Cavs’ perspective, they sent Dante Exum to the Rockets, to go with a 2022 Milwaukee Bucks first-rounder (unprotected) and a 2024 second-round pick (the lesser between them and the Utah Jazz) to Brooklyn.

The Cavs acquired Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince from the Nets in the deal.

In relation to the full reported details, courtesy of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, and Shams Charania Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, you can view those here. The same goes for reports from Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor related to Cleveland’s waiving of Thon Maker and Yogi Ferrell, and them using their $3.9 million trade exception to absorb Allen’s salary of that, but again, you can view those there.

And lastly in regards to the deal, Evan Dammarell of Forbes and Fear The Sword reported on Thursday how Cleveland acquired the draft rights to 2017 Nets 57th overall pick Aleksandar Vezenkov, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, when it comes to Allen, he’s averaged 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks thus far this season in mostly a key bench role for Brooklyn, albeit he started the past two seasons. He looks to be Cleveland’s long-term starting 5, considering Cleveland has coveted him/a young big like him for years, as Fedor (subscription required) hit on in a recent report.

Allen is a big-time athlete vertically, is just 22 and should mesh with Cleveland’s young core of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr. and others. And though he’s set to be a restricted free agent, he’ll be locked up long-term this summer, one would assume, regardless of newly-structured deal, via offer sheet matching, etc.

That’s as opposed to Andre Drummond, who could seemingly be an expiring trade piece for Cleveland for this season’s deadline, or could be retained through the deadline and simply sign elsewhere this offseason. And it’d appear that JaVale McGee is a trade piece, either way, with him having an easily movable expiring $4.2 million salary, and per Fedor, the Cavs have “already received calls” about McGee.

Okay so while the fit/role looking onward for Allen as a starting 5 is evident, or in the short-term via backup 5 is, how about Prince then?

3-and-D abilities are key with the Cavs’ Prince acquisition.

It’s a bit unclear as to what the role will be on the Cavs for Prince, but I trust head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to find that out in due time here. Prince is a player that should factor into Cleveland’s wing rotation, but he’s played some 4 in his career as well, and mostly last season, when he filled in as a small-ball 4 there for Brooklyn with Kevin Durant sidelined.

In his minutes-share, of which we’ll have to see about, also when considering Dylan Windler is back from a left hand fracture, and Isaac Okoro and Cedi Osman will get their sizable chunk, albeit they’ve played together, too, the Prince 3-and-D abilities are key.

When he’s been dialed-in, Prince has done a solid job on-ball against wings, and some 4’s at times. Prince is a guy who again, while we haven’t seen it all of the time, is capable of being a good defender on-ball, particularly against wings and guards, but there’s been some inconsistencies.

Albeit his team defenses haven’t been great, whether that be with the Atlanta Hawks during his first three seasons or with Brooklyn, who he was traded to before his fourth season.

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I’d imagine that Bickerstaff could get more of the good Prince defense out of him, though, and guys such as Okoro, Larry Nance Jr., Sexton and Allen should help, and potentially Windler/Kevin Porter Jr., to me. Prince’s 7-foot wingspan could aid the Cavsin forcing turnovers, too, which could in turn, lead to them being able to get out and run more.

Looking at the offensive end, we’ll again have to see how Prince can fit alongside other Cavs pieces, but he could feasibly help their perimeter shooting efforts.

Prince has been somewhat streaky in his career from three-point land, and hit 33.9 percent from there last season with the Nets, and thus far, hit 35.1 percent from deep. With the Hawks, in his last two seasons there, though, he hit 38.5 percent and 39.0 percent from range, and lifetime, has knocked in 36.6 percent from deep on 4.9 attempts per contest.

So, when he’s in there for the Cavaliers, how the 26-year-old Prince, who has averaged 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game thus far, fares as a catch-and-shoot threat will be crucial, one would think.

He can get to spots for pull-ups at times as well, and can get to the basket some via drives, and at 6-foot-7, Prince, who is a nice defensive rebounder, can bring the ball up a bit to at least help initiate the set offense/ball-swings, too.

But the key with the Prince acquisition for the Cavaliers is the viability for him as a 3-and-D contributor, and we’ll have to see regarding that/his fit.

If he doesn’t turn out to fit well, though, Prince could potentially be an expiring trade chip for Cleveland for next deadline/season, when he’ll make $13 million, for context.