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Stauskas confident in his range
By Adam Fluck | 06.18.2014
Among the many challenges that Nik Stauskas, regarded by some as the best shooter in this year’s draft, will face as he transitions to the NBA is a three-point line that is three feet further than the one in college.
The NCAA three-point line arc radius measures 20 feet, nine inches away from the basket, while the professional shot is 23 feet, nine inches out.
Stauskas, a 6-7, 207-pound guard who played two collegiate seasons at Michigan, isn’t concerned about the adjustment.
“This past year, a lot of the step-in threes I was getting were NBA threes just because teams were really playing up on me,” Stauskas explained at the NBA Draft Combine last month in Chicago. “So for me, it’s not that big of an adjustment. You’ve got to use a little bit more legs and focus when you’re tired. But I think it will be a pretty easy adjustment.”
As a sophomore with the Wolverines, Stauskas averaged 17.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 47.0 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from behind the arc.
He compiled a host of accolades, including 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year and 2014 All-Big Ten first team (only unanimous selection for both coaches and media teams). Stauskas also was named to the 2014 NABC All-America first team and the Associated Press and Sporting News All-America second teams.
While it’s his shooting that stands out as meets with various teams leading up to the draft, he’s also trying to showcase his versatility and that he can be an able defender at the next level.
“Offensively, I think teams are starting to get an idea of how versatile I am with the ball in my hands,” said Stauskas. “They’ll see that in the workouts for sure; I’m not worried about that. I just want to show teams I can defend because that’s the only knock on me at this point. It’s more of a mindset than anything and I feel like when I put my mind to it, I can really get it done.”
Stauskas, 20, acknowledges that he’s not a world-class athlete, though he was satisfied with a 35.5-inch maximum vertical leap and finished with the fifth fastest time in the lane agility drill at the combine.
“I know I’m not the best athlete out here and I’m never going to be a guy like Andrew Wiggins who wows you with my athleticism,” said Stauskas. “But I think you see that with most of the things, I’m middle of the pack or even the top half. For a guy with my offensive skillset, that’s really all I need. I just need to show teams I’m capable of having that kind of athleticism and getting after it.”
A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Stauskas identified Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry as players he regularly watches and tries to emulate.
“Those are two guys I really like and I want to model my game after,” said Stauskas.
Thompson and Curry have demonstrated the value of shooting and how a proficient perimeter player can impact the game. That’s not lost on Stauskas as he explained how he believes he can help a team.
“I think the NBA is starting to play a lot off the pick-and-roll,” Stauskas said. “You’re seeing a lot of offenses that initiate through ball screens. When you have guys that can space the floor and spread things out, in the NBA with that three-point line being a little farther, it really allows the offense to get a little advantage.
“Me being on a team, I’m a guy that can automatically spread the floor,” Stauskas continued. “Even when I’m in the ball screen, I feel like I’m very effective and teams have to respect my shot for when I come off the screen.”
Bulls.com was in attendance at the NBA Draft Combine May 15-16 in Chicago and this is the seventh in a series of looks at some of the projected first round picks. The Bulls currently own three selections in this summer’s June 26 draft—16th, 19th and 49th.