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NBA Draft 2014 Scouting Profile: Nik Stauskas

Michigan's Nik Stauskas is one of the best shooters in the class and has great offensive IQ, but does his poor defensive awareness keep him from being a good fit for Sacramento?

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Nik Stauskas

NBA Position: SG

General Information: 20 year old sophomore, played at Michigan. From Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Measurables: 6’6.5", 207 lbs, 6’7" wingspan, 8’6" standing reach

2013-14 Season Statistics: 17.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.9 RPG, .6 SPG, 1.9 TPG (35.6 Minutes per contest) – 47% FG, 82.4% FT, 44.2% 3P, 64.2% TSP

Summary: Stauskas is a gifted shooter with an excellent catch-and-shoot quick release, and has fantastic offensive awareness and IQ. He’s a capable passer and a good ball handler, enough so that there is talk of him playing some at the point. He won’t have the same immediate impact defensively, where he plays hard but lacks good fundamental technic or the length to stop most college players, let alone NBA players.

Offensive Breakdown: In a class full of good shooters, Stauskas is one of the best. He sank 208 three pointers on the season at a 44.2% clip (over 52% of his shots were threes), and was offensively efficient at every area on the court. He had a 62.4% true shooting percentage, which is fantastic for a shooting guard—better than Gary Harris (56.1%), Marcus Smart (55.2%), Tyler Ennis (51.1%) and nearly all other guards in the class.

Stauskas is an all-around solid offensive player, and he has great awareness and makes the correct decisions. He’s a fantastic catch-and-shoot player, and this should transition over well to the NBA when he isn’t asked to be the team’s offensive focal point. He improved as a slasher this season, and is quick and agile enough to be a threat at attacking the basket. He shot 5.7 free throws a game this year (in 2012-13 he shot just 2.2 a game), and 20% of his offense was at the rim, where he converted at a 65% clip.

There are concerns about how he’ll do when facing NBA size. He struggled against lengthier/quicker opponents, particularly in games against Arizona and Indiana. While he was asked to be Michigan’s 1st option, he’ll be more a 3rd/4th option in the NBA. This isn’t a knock against him; he shouldn’t be expected to be a go-to scorer, but rather a dangerous range shooter and complementary player that will stretch the floor. His ability to play off the ball and his success with the catch-and-shoot should translate immediately.

One positive was his success against Gary Harris and Michigan State. Harris is one of the best guard defenders in the class, and Stauskas averaged 20.3 points on 51% shooting. He had success shooting over the shorter Harris; see the DraftExpress breakdown of the Harris/Stauskas battle below.

While ESPN’s Chad Ford hinted that Stauskas has been telling teams he can play the point guard, I expect that Stauskas will play primarily as a shooting guard, albeit one with good passing instincts (18.8% assist rate) and good handles (12% turnover rate and a 1.7 A/T ratio). He’s a solid athlete, but he doesn’t have the great footspeed needed to break down NBA point guards on either end.

Defensive Breakdown: Stauskas lacks the same IQ level defensively as he has offensively, and I predict he’ll be a serious liability, at least immediately. He lacks great anticipation of the offense, and too easily got burned by shifting off his target when they’re moving without the ball. His limited wingspan (6’7) won’t be a threat against NBA length, and he needs to learn to play opponents tougher to compensate.

Despite everything I said, he’s got the solid athleticism and size to be an average defender if he works on his technique and bulks up. Most of his problems are technique issues, and not effort related. He doesn’t have great potential, but the Kings have had much worse defensive prospects in the recent past.

As a rebounder, there isn’t much to say about Stauskas. He doesn’t have the muscle mass to box out his opponents, and it wasn’t ever an area I saw too much effort put into. A 5.3% rebound rate is poor, but not a dealbreaker.

Intangibles: Stauksas made significant improvements to his game from his freshman year, attacking the basket more and showing toughness against stronger opponents. He was  a solid role player for the Championship runner-up Wolverines in his freshman year, and with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. off to the NBA Stauksas stepped up as the go-to player. He shows good effort defensively, which gives some optimism for improvement; he looks like a hard worker, and no negative stories about his work ethic or future have floated out of Michigan.

Fit with Sacramento: I doubt the Kings would take Stauskas at No. 8, but he may be a target if the team moves back. He wouldn’t help the defense immediately, but he should improve given the right coaching and focus on his technique. He moves well without the ball and could help open up the offense with his dangerous range AND solid passing instincts.

Unlike some of the Kings combo guards in the past, Stauskas doesn’t need to carry the ball to be effective; his usage rate was only 24%. That’s comparable to Ben McLemore’s one year at Kansas (23.2%), and miles below Tyreke Evans at Memphis (33.2%) or Jimmer Fredette’s senior year at BYU (37.8%).

Stauskas would fit best as a starting shooting guard on a solid defensive team that needs a deadly range shooter. The fit isn’t perfect in Sacramento, but there is no doubt that the Kings could use a player with Staukas’ offensive IQ and long-range abilities.

DraftExpress Video: