Monday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers marked the 2nd straight game that rookie Nik Stauskas received a DNP-CD. Stauskas has had a very tough first season, shooting just 33.3% from the field and only 27.2% from three. Even more, he looks shaken and lost on the basketball court, possessing little of the swagger that he showed in his two years at the University of Michigan.
Over the next three weeks, the Kings play 8 of 12 games on the road and the Reno Bighorns have a six-game homestand. During that time, the Kings should seriously think about sending Stauskas down to the D-League to get him some serious playing time and a lot of touches. The Bighorns play in a system that Stauskas should seemingly thrive in, as they rely a lot on both driving to the hoop and the three point shot.
The biggest thing the Kings need from Stauskas is for him to get his confidence back and to find some semblance of a rhythm from the NBA three point line. Going to Reno will give him plenty of opportunities to do that. Right now, Stauskas isn't doing the Kings much good on the court, and as such, he's seeing a lot less time. With Ramon Sessions coming back soon, we could see him and/or Ray McCallum take more playing time at the two. That means even less opportunity for Nik to play, and sitting on the bench doesn't help him as much as getting actual playing time, even against inferior competition.
Sending a player down to the D-League doesn't carry nearly the stigma that it once did. It's a useful developmental tool and one that many successful teams (particularly the Texas-trio of Houston, San Antonio and Dallas) use to get their prospects game time. The Kings themselves saw the benefits of the D-League last year when they sent Ray McCallum down there for extended periods of time. It's arguable that they should have even sent Ben McLemore down there last year, and they might have if they had any options aside from him at the Shooting Guard position.
This year the Kings do have options, and it's hard to see a downside to giving Nik time in Reno. It doesn't have to be a long trip, but it's better than him sitting around on the bench doing nothing but watching. That's valuable to a point, but not nearly as valuable as actually being able to contribute on the court. And hey, if the Kings are actually thinking about trading Nik, getting him some time against lesser competition might not be the worst thing in the world if they're trying to show him in the best light possible.
I still believe that Nik has a bright future, but he still needs to work on a lot of things. If he's not going to be doing it in Sacramento, then let him do it in Reno.