Facing a variety of trade proposals for the No. 8 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings ultimately decided to retain the pick selecting Nik Stauskas. Whether Stauskas remains a member of the team remains to be seen, but his individual skill-set is likely to translate well into the league. Was he the best option at No. 8? Maybe. There may have been a couple of better all-around players available. Was he the safest pick at No. 8? Without a doubt.
Now onto evaluating how Stauskas will fit in with the culture of the current Sacramento roster. Shooting guard has certainly been a position of need for the Kings after the Jimmer Fredette experiment was a miserable failure for the past three seasons. Management hoped Ben McLemore would be the solution to this issue, however, he appears to need quite a bit of work on and off the court until he is capable of contributing meaningful minutes without DeMarcus Cousins constantly screaming at him. This is not to suggest McLemore will not improve this offseason, this observation is solely based on his play and demeanor while on the floor last year.
Now bring in Stauskas, who is coming off an unbelievable sophomore season in which he averaged 18 points per game while shooting 45 percent from downtown. Stauskas gained traction this season as he led the Michigan Wolverines in scoring, assists per game and three-point shooting percentage. It also helped that the Wolverines made it all the way to the Elite 8 in March Madness before a narrow loss to the Kentucky Wildcats. Throughout the entirety of both the season and postseason, though, Stauskas remained poised with one goal in mind, a championship. His mentality combined with his tremendous shooting ability almost guaranteed himself as a lottery pick once the season ended.
The fit in Sacramento could not be any better since the team was next to last in three-point field goal percentage recording an embarrassing 33.3 percent mark on the season. So throwing Stauskas into the mix definitely cannot hurt them. His shot is so pure that I do not expect it ever to slip below average at any point in his career. His ability to spot up at an elite level is one thing, but how successful he was on pick and rolls as well as dribble handoffs is the remarkable achievement. If he was so successful in college executing these plays, just imagine how successful he will be running these plays with a player like Cousins.
Despite shooting at an elite level, I do not expect Stauskas to become the clear-cut starter. Defense is a major deficiency on his end and unless he really works hard on it, he will undoubtedly become a huge liability defensively. Luckily, shooting guard is not the most loaded position in today’s NBA which should help a bit. As for an overall pick, though, Sacramento hit a home run. This will allow the floor to open up substantially giving Cousins and Rudy Gay substantially more room to work on the interior. How we really should measure Stauskas’ impact on the team during his rookie year is how Cousins and Gay’s numbers improve while playing alongside him. I expect a dramatic improvement.
Overall Grade: B+