Former Kentucky standout Tayshaun Prince, according to USA Today, has turned out to be one of the best "values" in the NBA. The third-year forward for the Detroit Pistons has produced over 1,000 points, nearly 400 rebounds and nearly 250 assists for the bargain price of just over $1 million this year. The impact he has on his team this year has only amplified the gap between production and pay.
He has really developed consistency, coach Larry Brown said on a Detroit radio station just prior to returning to the bench after missing eleven games due to surgery. Im proud of him. Hes defended, hes rebounded, he is a terrific passer - totally unselfish. Its a joy to be around him. He has had a great year but I think hes just scratched the surface for what he can do. I think he can be a very special player, hes got that much potential.
While $1 million certainly doesn't place Prince into the poverty category, compare that to USA's "25 most overpriced players", ranging from $2 - $13 million in annual salary, none of whom have close to the production of Tayshaun.
Drew Gooden, former Kansas Jayhawks star, makes three time what Prince makes and does not produce as much. The Dallas Mavericks' Erick Dampier makes rough 7.5 times as much and produces about half.
Still Prince remains calm and is seemingly unaffected.I guess I am always pretty laid-back and mellow no matter what, Prince said. Thats just the way I carry myself all the time. I get that from my parents. Theyre really laid-back and calm, too. I dont change, no matter what is going on around me. It doesnt mean Im not into things. I am just taking things my own way.
Whatever he is doing it is working for Detroit. The Pistons are once again in first place in the NBA's Central Division knocking on the door of the playoffs.
We never know whats going on with Tay, point guard Chauncey Billups said. He could have 30 points, and hes looking like he hasnt scored yet. He looks so frail and so timid. Its like a trap. Hes like a secret. People sleep on him and he wakes them up fast.
Billups' comments were not the first such comments Tay has heard, "I've heard that most of my life, but I've worked on my body and I've always tried to be versatile," he said. "I can handle the ball. I can play the two or three. I've brought the ball up against pressure, and I've tried to be a good defensive player. I finished fifth all-time in blocked shots at Kentucky and the people ahead of me were all centers."
For the season, Prince has averaged 14.4 points per game. But down the home stretch since March 1, Tay has averaged nearly 17 points per game. "He has really blossomed into a fine player," Brown said, "Its the sum total, because of how he developed at Kentucky, what he went through last year. He received great fundamental coaching in high school and in college and that has contributed to the type of player he is today. Hes a big-game player. Hes kind of the type of guy that the longer he plays, the more youre going to appreciate him.
Im just a basketball player, though," Prince said, "I want the people around the league who know me to say I am laid-back, cool and a good player. Thats enough for me. The rest, I think theyll figure it out on their own.