At 27, Taurean Prince isn't an old veteran in the NBA but he isn't among the youngest group of players either. He has been in the league enough time to gain perspective and some of his more natural inclinations when he was younger — like complaining about a lack of playing time — have given way to the wisdom of his experience.
So Prince might have had another reaction earlier in his career when his playing time was cut recently and he registered two games without playing at all.
"Maybe a couple years ago I would've felt some type of way or acted a certain way," the Timberwolves forward said. "But now I'm to the point where I just want to hoop. I'm with a great organization. We got something going here. … For me to feel any type of way about playing time right now would be — it'd be a little bit selfish on my behalf. Just try to stick together, see it all through and things will come together."
In the NBA, opportunities tend to come back around and Prince got his chance again this week with Josh Okogie (back spasms) missing the past three games, including Saturday's with the Grizzlies, and Naz Reid (right foot soreness) sitting out Thursday. Prince had his best game in a Wolves uniform Thursday when he had 13 points, and it could have been more had he not been ejected late in third quarter for a flagrant-2 on Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV.
Prince has also been in the league long enough not to sweat a dip in production, like when he entered Thursday shooting just 19% from three-point range, well below his career average of 37%. He shot 3-for-5 against the Spurs.
"As a shooter, I'm trying to put together a full body of work," Prince said. "That's 82 games plus playoffs. I wouldn't be able to sleep if I was worried about everything game to game, as far as percentages. Continue to stay in the gym. Trust in the work and the percentages will speak at the end of the day."
Wolves coach Chris Finch said as the offense improves its rhythm, players such as Prince, Jaden McDaniels and Malik Beasley should get better looks in the flow of the offense instead of trying to put up shots amid a choppy rhythm. As the Wolves offense stumbled through the first few weeks, the quality of shots for the complementary offensive players suffered. Those looks have improved recently.
"It's unfair to ask those guys to make shots even if they're good shooters when the the ball is just like, 'Hey, here, shoot it,' " Finch said.
Prince said his experience can also benefit the Wolves in terms of leadership. He's not too old, not too young.
"Being aware, realizing who you can speak to and how you can speak to them ..." Prince said. "I talk about a lot besides basketball. That's where I can connect with a lot of the young guys. I'm 27. Been in the league six years, so it's not like I'm too young, but I'm not too old, I guess you can say. I'm right there in a happy medium. I can relate with pretty much anybody on the team, just try to be there for them any way I can whether it's basketball on the court or off."
Compliments for McDaniels
Finch said opponents this season have taken note of McDaniels' defense.
The second-year forward has battled foul trouble — some of it undeserved, Finch said. When asked to grade McDaniels' defense when he's not fouling opponents Finch said, "A or A-minus."
It's not just the Wolves who are impressed.
"Every game pretty much we have some opponent coming over saying to our bench he can really guard," Finch said. "[Suns guard] Chris Paul said it the other day: 'Who is this guy? He can really guard.' "