Taurean Prince proving to be unheralded glue to this Timberwolves roster

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves did not hesitate to extend power forward Taurean Prince over the past off-season. For good reason, it seems. After the 2022-23 NBA season, it’s quite clear that while the Timberwolves roster reads well on paper, there are cracks and holes in various lineups that were unexpected. The glue guy to fill those cracks is PF/SF Taurean Prince.

It’s not uncommon for an NBA team to rely on a versatile veteran to fill in the cracks. What is unusual for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2022-23 NBA season is how large those cracks have become at times. While the Timberwolves continue to await the return of All-Star power forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns, the team has been struggling to sustain manageable minutes of play for their entire frontcourt lineup.

After all, it’s not just Towns who has been a no-show for the Timberwolves this season. Center Rudy Gobert has missed 12 games (19 percent), Kyle Anderson has missed 13 games (20 percent), and even Taurean Prince has missed 26 games (41 percent). Unfortunately, when Prince does not show up, the Minnesota Timberwolves seem to struggle.

When Prince suits up, the Timberwolves have enjoyed more success than without him. During his 38 games played, the Timberwolves have a record of 22-16. Without him on the basketball court, the Timberwolves are 10-16. That’s significant, no matter how you dissect or analyze the results.

There is another . . .

What does that mean going forward? Well, with the Timberwolves clinging to the fading hopes for postseason play, the team will need PF Taurean Prince to remain healthy. But more than that, the team will need to find others to provide what Prince has been doing. That means that the team needs a well-rounded player who can score, play defense, and drop three-pointers at a clip that is nearly 40 percent. Easy, right?

Thankfully, newly arrived shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker is showing signs of delivering the same type of versatility and long-range marksmanship for the Timberwolves. In fact, NAW is hitting treys at a phenomenal 46.2 percent rate, while only getting an average of 13.8 minutes per game.

I’m not suggesting that the Minnesota Timberwolves should sit key starters like Anthony Edwards or Jaden McDaniels. But I am suggesting that Taurean Prince and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have key roles to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves if this team has any hope of competing in the NBA Playoffs and that they warrant more playing time than veteran Austin Rivers, Nathan Knight, and perhaps even Jordan McLaughlin.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have struggled to give fans players to believe in. Right now, Taurean Prince and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are flashing signs that they can help carry the load. I, for one, say let’s see what they’ve got.