In his two years at the University of Michigan, Nik Stauskas opened a lot of eyes with his ability to score to ball, particularly his ability to knock down the three ball with regularity. He showed off a quick release and was able to use his 6’6 frame to shoot over smaller defenders at the collegiate level.
As a freshman, he was utilized primarily off the ball in a catch-and-shoot role, shooting 44 percent on 182 attempts from downtown. The 182 attempts from three accounted for 61.1 percent of his total field goal attempts during that season. During his sophomore campaign, Stauskas proved that he is more than just a threat from beyond the arc. While he actually increased his three point attempts up to 208, his percentage of shots from three decreased to 52.8 percent. The most notable difference was Stauskas’ willingness to attack the basket. Stauskas shot just 87 free throws as a freshman, and that number sky rocketed up to 204 attempts from the line as a sophomore. He became one on the focal points of the Michigan attack and finished his sophomore year averaging 17.8 points per game, with a very efficient true shooting percentage of 64.2 percent.
Stauskas knows that at the next level he still will have a lot of work to do to become a complete player. His ability to defend in the NBA is one of the bigger concerns surrounding his game.
“Defensively, getting that mindset of really trying to lock people down, that’s been the biggest question with me so far, am I going to able to guard at the next level?” Stauskas said at the combine in Chicago. “I think for me it’s going to be more of a mindset than anything, just go out there and work my hardest.”
For a player his size, Stauskas tested especially well in the agility test at the combine. Out of all the players over 6’ 5, Stauskas recorded the best time at 10.79 seconds, and sixth-best time of all participants at the combine. For comparison, Zach LaVine, renowned for his athleticism, recorded the top time at 10.42 seconds. Stauskas seems to have the ability to move his feet and change direction with the best of them, something that should really help him on the defensive end when tasked with defending some of the quicker guards in the league. This will certainly be encouraging to teams considering Stauskas in the mid-to-late first round.
Stauskas is considered a late lottery prospect grouped together with other top shooting guards like James Young and Gary Harris. Stauskas and Harris became very familiar with each throughout their time competing in the Big Ten and will now compete for the desire of NBA teams looking to add a shooter and a scorer.
When asked about how the two matched up, Stauskas seemed pleased with his play against Harris.
“The time they beat us in the Big Ten tournament they beat us pretty good, but the other two times I feel like I had two great games and he was matched up on me for the majority of the time in those games,” Stauskas said. “I shot the ball really well and I got to the basket pretty much whenever I wanted. I think things went really well against him.”
Despite his strong play in head to head matchups with Harris, Stauskas knows it’s out of his hands in terms of which player is chosen first.
“I haven’t talked to Gary about that,” Stauskas said. “Whatever happens, happens. That’s not really up to me. I’m going to go into these workouts and do the best I can. You know if we’re paired up against each other in a workout I’m definitely going to go at him. It’s going to be up to the teams; whoever they feel is going to be the best fit for them.”
Stauskas tested well and showed that he is solid athlete. He has good size for his position and even at the NBA level will have a size advantage over some of the smaller two guards in the league. He is currently projected to be picked as early as 13th and as late 20th in Basketball Insiders’ latest consensus mock draft. The most popular projected landing spot being Minnesota at the 13th pick, with two of our four top writers predicting Stauskas will be selected by the Timberwolves.
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