Selected with the No. 8 pick in June’s NBA draft by the Kings, guard Nik Stauskas shot 44 percent from three-point range at the University of Michigan. A quick Malcom Gladwell “blink” would suggest -- based upon the Kings' desperate need to improve their three-point field goal percentage (tied for 27th in the NBA last season at 33 percent) -- that this was a one dimensional selection.
But the Kings are convinced there’s much more to Stauskas' game than simple long range shooting.
“Great citizen off the court," said Michigan head coach John Beilein, who coached Stauskas in both his NCAA seasons. "He’s got all kinds of moves to his dribble game. Off the catch he can shoot it, off the runaway he can shoot it -- extremely athletic, can go and dunk on anybody. What you’ll like best about him is that he’s just at the tip of the iceberg right now. He’s just really learning how to play.
"The best is yet to come in his career.”
Michigan has undergone a renaissance under Beilein. His offense is predicated on pick-and-roll scenarios, proving to be a great training ground for the NBA.
Two years ago, Trey Burke went No. 9 to Utah (via Minnesota) and Tim Hardaway Jr. was taken by the Knicks at No. 24. This year, Stauskas went to the Kings at No. 8, Glenn Robinson III to Minnesota at No. 10 and Mitch McGary at No. 21 to Oklahoma City.
Stauskas and the Wolverines made it to the NCAA finals two years ago, falling to Louisville, and lost to another eventual national champion, Kentucky, in the NCAA Midwest Regional Finals this past season.
The 6-foot-6 Canadian helped the Kings capture the NBA Summer League Championship in Las Vegas, but that’s ancient history at this point. Now, Stauskas is adjusting to the NBA game, particularly the physicality.
“It’s really just embracing it," Stauskas said. "Embracing that physicality, not being scared of it, don’t shy away from it, because I feel like if you shy away from it, the veterans, they kind of sense that and they’ll get up into you a little bit more, so you know, just trying to embrace it and play off of it.”
Perhaps the continued work ethic expressed by Beilein will serve Stauskas well through the adjustment.
“He has been on a very pointed task to just be the best player he can be, and then the NBA will take care of itself instead of just be obsessed with ‘I gotta be an NBA player.'
"His rise this year has a lot to do with his commitment to just improving the type of player he was."
It may be surprising to see Stauskas driving on a California freeway -- he’s yet to secure a driver’s license -- but many won’t be surprised to see him drive to the basket in addition to launching those three-pointers -- an area the Kings desparately need to become much more proficient.