Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting - 1st Round - Nik Stauskas

Anybody who watched the Pistons' failed three big man experiment this season knows that they need more shooting.  It would stand to reason that, whether the Pistons unload one of their starting big men or not, this team needs shooting at all three perimeter positions this offseason.  The lack of efficient scoring options on the perimeter for the Pistons in 2013-14 caused major headaches.  Enter Nik Stauskas, the Big Ten leader in just about everything offense.  Stauskas led college basketball's best conference in points, 3P%, FTA, eFG% and ORtg while finishing second in TS% and minutes played.  Stauskas arguably meant more to the Wolverines than any other major-conference player meant to his team this season.  He chose to take advantage of that huge season and enter the draft, forgoing his final two years of eligibility.

That choice will likely pay off in the form of a lottery pick, as Stauskas ranks safely among the top three SGs in this year's class, and is arguably the best two-guard in the class (assuming Wiggins is a SF and Exum is a PG).  He's either the best or second-best shooter in the draft as well, depending on your take on Doug McDermott.  Sounds like a great fit for the Pistons, right?  6'6 playmakers who shoot 44.2% from three don't grow on trees; and if they did, it's safe to say that the Pistons would nourish that tree like the Sahara.  Let's take a look at what Stauskas could bring to the Pistons and if he's a fit with the 8th overall pick...

Click "Read More" for the rest of the scouting report...

NIK STAUSKAS - SG - MICHIGAN, So. - 6'6, 205

(Don't say he's more than just a shooter, don't say he's more than just a shooter)...So when it comes down to it, Nik Stauskas is defnitely more than just a shooter (Ahh, dammit).  Yes, shooting is his biggest strength, but Stauskas' ability to find the open roll man off of a screen or to whip a pass to a shooter on the other side of the floor is equally impressive.  He's an excellent passer and has superb court vision, especially for a SG.  Stauskas showcased this skill on more than just mere occasion, as he led the Wolverines in APG and finished 10th in the Big Ten in total assists.  Stauskas isn't an elite ball-handler which lends to some concerns about his ability to be able to execute as a facilitator and playmaker at the NBA level.  

As a scorer, Stauskas does the bulk of his work beyond the arc.  Stauskas attempted 56.5% of his shots from deep this season.  That isn't bothersome when you connect on 44.2% of your looks. Despite his heavy amount of three-point attempts, Stauskas still managed to get to the free throw line on a frequent basis.  He led the Big Ten in free throw attempts, getting there 5.7 times per game and connecting on 82.4% of his looks.  Stauskas gets to the free throw line thanks to solid athleticism and improved strength from his freshman season, which allowed him to be more accepting of contact.  His body is still developing, but he will be at a strength disadvantage from day one in the NBA.  His ability to get to the line with regularity may be something he leaves behind in the college ranks.  
Stauskas does the majority of his work from the left side of the floor, where he excels from just about every area.  His cold shooting from the top of the key is moderately concerning, as that's where he would take the majority of his threes in pick-and-roll situations.  Nonetheless, that's the shot chart of a scoring assassin.  The most translatable data to the NBA from this chart is Stauskas' lethal shooting from the left corner.  The corner three is basketball's most valuable shot, and Stauskas' ability to hit that shot should get him on the floor, whether he can defend and create off the dribble or not.  Stauskas' struggles from the right corner should be of little concern due to a lack of data from the spot.  Something tells me he would be lethal from there too if left open enough times.

Where Stauskas is lacking as a prospect is on the defensive end of the floor, as well as physically.  At 6'6, Stauskas has good height for a SG, but at only 205 pounds, he could still stand to add another 10-15 pounds to his frame.  What he lacks in strength, Stauskas makes up for in athleticism.  His reported 38" vertical (h/t to, would have ranked 6th among SGs at last year's NBA combine.  A strong showing at this year's event could earn him top ten consideration.  Stauskas' defensive issues may never go away, as he doesn't boast more than average lateral quickness.  He's also not impressive from a length standpoint, measuring in with a 6'7 wingspan.  Stauskas' weaknesses don't look to be correctable, but can be swept under the rug if he produces as expected on offense. 

Nik Stauskas would be a fit with the Pistons in 2014-15 and beyond for obvious reasons.  He would instantly be the team's best outside shooter, and his play-making (assuming it translates) could be fun to watch with Andre Drummond in pick-and-roll situations.  Deciding whether to guard Stauskas coming open off the screen or Drummond breaking open towards the hoop on the roll could create all kinds of havoc for an opposing defense.  Popular opinion seems to be that Stauskas would be a reach at the 8th pick, and I tend to agree.  However, if the Pistons do want him, trading down might not be an option.  If the Pistons pass him by at 8, Stauskas could come into play as early as #10 to Philadelphia, the league's worst three-point shooting team last season.  Assuming none of the draft's top six prospects falls into their lap, Stauskas should garner serious consideration from the Pistons at #8, value be damned.  He may not have the upside of Aaron Gordon, Dario Saric or others likely to be there when they pick, but Stauskas couldn't fit what the Pistons need any more perfectly.  His scoring would provide a nifty "platoon" option with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's defensive ability, or even alongside KCP at SF in a small-ball lineup; allowing the Pistons more lineup flexibility on the perimeter.  The Pistons need shooters in the worst way and Nik Stauskas would be a great option to stretch the floor.

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