There were many doubters when the Memphis Grizzlies traded leading scorer Rudy Gay as part of a three-team deal with the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors that landed them Tayshaun Prince. Although Prince’s impact isn’t immediately noticeable on the stat sheet, his contributions have been huge for the Grizzlies.
Prince spent his entire 11-year career with the Pistons before Memphis acquired him at the end of January. During his career in Detroit Prince garnered a reputation as one of the NBA‘s best perimeter defenders, and was named to the Al-Defensive team four consecutive seasons from 2004-2008.
The Grizzlies were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, but Gay was a bit of a weak link on that end of the court. Memphis took a risk by trading away their leading scorer in the middle of a season where they are a contender for the Western Conference Finals, but some changes needed to be made in order for them to advance deeper into the playoffs this season than last.
Prince only averaged 8.8 points for the Grizzlies, but his length as a defender on the perimeter will be a key factor in Memphis’ ability to contain Kevin Durant in their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Prince is also signed for the next two seasons at a much cheaper rate than Gay, and if Prince can prove his value at the right time then the Grizzlies front office will look like geniuses for the risky move that was made to get them to this point of the season.