Michael Curry couldn't have been more blunt with his expectations for Tayshaun Prince. From the Detroit News:
"I expect Tayshaun to be an all-star," Curry said. "He's been playing at that level and by taking Antonio McDyess out of the starting lineup allows more things to be run for Tay; it's one less guy we have to worry about getting shots for.
"That and the way we want to run and play this season should produce more opportunities for Tayshaun."
[...] "I told Tay, we want more out of him," Curry said. "We want him to handle the ball more and make decisions. We want him to post more and score more. We are asking a lot of out Tay and in return we are asking him to help us help put him in positions where he can be aggressive and use all of his skills."
I like Curry's line of thinking; Prince is obviously a dangerous offensive weapon when he chooses to be, especially with that little hook shot in the post. Unfortunately, whenever he's paired up against an offensive-minded small forward on defense, he disappears on offense. Is he capable of playing at a high level on both sides of the ball at the same time? The optimistic fan in me wants to say yes, but objectively speaking, I'm not sure. To be honest, it doesn't sound like he's too convinced, either:
"One thing this coach (Curry) has realized watching me the last few years is that, of all the other starters, it's really important for me to have the opportunity to get some restful minutes during games," Prince said.
In other words, yeah, I'll produce, but only if I play fewer minutes. He only averaged 32.9 minutes a game last year, but in the playoffs, when his inconsistency is most apparent, he's averaged more than 40 minutes a game over the last four years. In hindsight, the combination of increased minutes plus covering the opposition's best offensive option (LeBron, Pierce, Iguodala, Hedo, Deng, etc) takes its toll. I know not everybody is a fan of the PER statistic, but as a snapshot of his productivity, Prince's PER has dropped off from the regular season to the playoffs in three of the last four years.
When I think of All-Stars, I think of guys who step up their game in the playoffs, not guys who slowly fade. If this is the year he steps up his game and receives that February honor, here's to hoping he's also able to maintain that performance into the summer months.