Sometimes it’s the players who come off the bench who prove to be the difference in the outcome of the game. That certainly seems to be the case for Minnesota Timberwolves backup power forward Taurean Prince, a player who had just returned from an extended period off due to injury. His return coincides with the Minnesota Timberwolves four-game winning streak, of which Taurean Prince has played in three of those games, and come off the bench to score no less than 10 points per game.
The Timberwolves roster simply doesn’t work without Taurean Prince. He is one of the team’s best perimeter shooters, a dependable scorer, and a solid rebounder, and he can pass the ball to the open shooter, block shots, and even reach in for the occasional steal. Best of all, he does all of that from the bench.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are at 20-21 at the season mid-point. But with Prince, the team has been cruising with a record of 13-8, including three of the team’s current four-game winning streak. But was it simply great timing against weak opponents?
Not really. He has helped the team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers (26-15), the Philadelphia 76ers (24-15), the Miami Heat (21-20), the LA Clippers (21-21), and the Portland Trail Blazers (19-20).
He’s no Rocket Man
The latest game, a road win against the Houston Rockets, is a solid example of why the Timberwolves need Prince. When Taurean Prince entered the game for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the 4:31 mark of the first quarter, the Rockets had already climbed out to a double-digit lead by the score of 22-12. While that lead climbed rapidly to 13 points, the Timberwolves began to rally, thanks to some well-timed three-point shots landing by Timberwolves star shooting guard Anthony Edwards.
And on one of those shots, it was Taurean Prince who fed him the ball, allowing him to sink the shot and inch the Timberwolves ever closer.
Fast forward to the fourth and final quarter of the game. Once again, the Timberwolves had rallied back to tie it all up at 81-81. But Prince was there again, this time sinking a 25-foot pullup jump shot for three points to take the lead with 9:41 remaining in the game. The Timberwolves did not lose the leas for the remainder of the game.
That’s the bonus of Prince’s contribution to this team. It’s not just that he does, or even what he does, but rather when he does it that is so vital for this team. By the end of the game, Prince had scored 14 points and distributed the ball effectively enough to earn four assists. But his +/- for the game was a game-leading +19, and he was the only player off the bench with a positive impact on the games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves need strong bench play, and power forward Taurean Prince delivers that for the team. While the Timberwolves are not yet back to .500, the team is rallying back. And as long as Taurean Prince continues to remain healthy and productive, this team will continue to win.