Michigan’s Nik Stauskas is an incredible three-point shooter as he showcased in his freshman season, helping Michigan to the championship game. He came on to the scene as a cocky sharpshooter, with potential to be even more offensively for the Wolverines. In his sophomore season, can he fulfill his potential as more than just a great shooter?
Stauskas is one of the best in three point shooters in the country, proving his knockdown ability by making 70 out of 76 three pointers in a five-minute period, making 46 in a row to start. Obviously, he didn’t shoot at that clip in games last season, but still shot a scorching 44% in his freshman year. He started even hotter than that, making 56% of his threes in his first 13 games at Michigan. Stauskas even showed he could take over games by himself, making 6-6 threes against Florida in the Elite Eight, pushing Michigan into the final four. The thing is: Stauskas can be more than just a sharpshooter.
Stauskas has shown that he can be more in small stretches, but hasn’t completely shown an expanded game. Unlike former Michigan sharpshooters like Zack Novak, Stu Douglass and Matt Vogrich, Stauskas has above average athleticism. He has the ability to take the ball to the rim with strength and score at the rim with skill. However, despite showing flashes of those abilities, Stauskas never fully integrated a more complete offensive game into his performances. 61% of Stauskas’s field goal attempts were threes, a crazy number for a player who played over 30 minutes a game.
One-dimensional shooters can be stopped easily. If you take away their space, they can’t drive past defenders, and are rendered as useless observers standing on the three-point line. When that happens, the offensive team is really playing four on five. Unfortunately, Stauskas allowed that to happen to him too often last season. Four different times last season Stauskas was held to three or fewer points: at Ohio State, Michigan State, Syrcause in the Final Four and in the championship game against Louisville.
Sense a pattern there? Good teams were able to take Stauskas out of games. But really, Stasuskas allowed teams to take him out of games, by becoming one-dimensional and not being aggressive. There will be games where either the other team will prevent him from getting good three point looks or he just wont be able to make threes. That is when Stauskas has to use his ball handling, driving and finishing abilities. They are not elite abilities, but more than enough to keep defenses guessing and on their heels, with the potential to be a real danger if he continues to improve.
Next season, as a sophomore, Stauskas will have even more responsiblility on offense. There won’t be a Trey Burke to bail Michigan out like he so often did last year. If Stauskas can’t score in a game, Michigan isn’t going to win them very often. Despite showing flashes of being capable of having a more all-around offensive game, Stauskas kept himself mostly one-dimensional. If he wants to become more dangerous on offense and improve his value, Stauskas must deploy a more diverse attack.