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30Q: Will Nik Stauskas be an impact rookie?

The Kings drafted a player who is more ready to play in the NBA than most rookies, but will he have a meaningful impact for the Kings in his first season?

Jamie Sabau

When the Kings drafted Nik Stauskas back in June, the reaction of most Kings fans was confusion.  Didn't the Kings just draft a shooting guard the year prior?  Wasn't there a need for better defense?

Still, the selection made sense after further thought.  Yes, the Kings had drafted a Shooting Guard in Ben McLemore the year before, but McLemore was also the only real Shooting Guard on the entire roster and he had struggled mightily in his rookie season.  The Kings also wanted guys that could help now, and players like Noah Vonleh and Elfrid Payton were considered riskier prospects that would take time to develop.

As such, expectations for Nik Stauskas' rookie season are a little higher due to the fact that he's expected to be able to come in and help right away, at least on the offensive side of the ball.  Unlike McLemore last year, Stauskas has an elite skill he can rely on night in and night out in his shooting.

When McLemore was drafted, his shooting was a plus, having shot 42% from downtown in his lone year of college.  However, that didn't really translate in the NBA where that percentage dropped all the way to 32%.  I don't foresee Nik Stauskas having that same problem.  Stauskas shot both a higher percentage (44.1% over two years) and a higher volume of attempts (5.8 a game in his sophomore year) from long range.  In NBA Summer League, he shot 47.8% from three in 7 games.

The Kings really struggled from long range last year.  They were 27th in 3P% (.333) and 28th in three pointers made.  Stauskas can help that from day one.  More importantly, unlike previous rookie shooters Ben McLemore and Jimmer Fredette, Stauskas can actually create his own shots thanks to the fact that he's a more than competent ball handler already.  In his sophomore year of college, Stauskas was asked to take more of a primary role as a facilitator thanks to Trey Burke leaving for the NBA, and he responded with a big jump in assist rate (7.6% to 18.8%) while keeping his turnover rate about the same (11.5% to 12.0%).

Stauskas also brings high basketball awareness and savvy for a rookie.  While Summer League isn't a great indicator of how a player will play, it was the little things that Nik would do that really gave me hope for his future aside from things like his shooting.  On a few occasions, Nik would pass up an open shot, not out of timidity like a rookie Fredette once did, in order to get the ball to a teammate in a better position to score.  Here's one such example at the 26 second mark:

Nik still has a lot of work to do on his game (particularly on defense), and he almost certainly won't be a "star" as a rookie (or possibly ever), but he can help and he can help now.  Simply having someone that can be relied upon to hit an open shot and to move the ball when the opportunity presents itself is a big boon to Sacramento's offense.