Report: Several Lakers were ‘taken aback’ when Darvin Ham chose to start Taurean Prince

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple players on the Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly “taken aback” by Darvin Ham’s decision to start Taurean Prince in lieu of Rui Hachimura at the start of the 2023-24 campaign, according to Anthony Irwin of Lakers Daily.

“When Prince was chosen to start at the beginning of the season over Hachimura, several players were taken aback,” Irwin wrote. “No one held it against Prince, to be clear, but many in the locker room and throughout the organization were left wondering why plans that had been in place for months were now thrown out the window right at the start of the season.”

Prince — who signed a one-year deal with the Lakers back in the 2023 offseason — started 49 of the 78 games he appeared in during the 2023-24 regular season. In his first season as a member of the storied franchise, the 30-year-old averaged 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.7 steals per contest.

Arguably the most valuable skill that Prince brought to the table on the offensive side of the ball was his 3-point shooting ability. He knocked down an impressive 39.6 percent of his shots from deep on 4.6 attempts per game.

Additionally, Prince ranked fourth on the team — behind D’Angelo Russell, LeBron James and Austin Reaves — in 3s made per game with 1.8.

But Prince’s accurate 3-point shooting in the regular season didn’t translate over into the Lakers’ matchup against the Denver Nuggets in the opening round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. The power forward converted just 29.4 percent of his shots from deep in a series Los Angeles lost in five games.

He shot better than 33 percent from 3-point range in just two of the five games, considering he converted two of his three 3s in the Lakers’ Game 2 loss on April 22 and one of his three 3s in Game 1.

Hachimura didn’t perform much better from a scoring standpoint versus Denver than Prince did. The former averaged a little more points per game (7.8 compared to 7.4) while shooting 39.5 percent from the field.

The 26-year-old had a productive game in the Lakers’ lone win during their first-round series, though, which came in Game 4. The Japanese big man racked up nine points, four rebounds and one assist while knocking down half of his eight shots from the floor.

It’s up in the air as to whether Prince will be a member of the Lakers next season, as he is set to hit free agency this offseason. But considering his ability to space the floor and hold his own defensively, perhaps the Lakers will ink him to another deal in the near future.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.