Kings Positional Breakdown: SG
In the weeks prior to the 2014 NBA Draft, Sacramento’s ownership group, the entire basketball operations staff and finalists from the team’s Draft 3.0 Challenge poured over mounds of data and hundreds of play analyses in search of the perfect candidate for their eighth-overall selection.
As the moment of truth approached, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from the University of Michigan by the name of Nik Stauskas surfaced. The early entrant had made a big splash in college and was quickly snatched up by the Kings.
“I had my scouts with their eyes [in one room] saying ‘I like this guy,’ then I had [my Draft 3.0 finalists in another room] saying, ‘I like this guy.’ When the two merge, you’re onto something,” said General Manager Pete D’Alessandro after selecting Stauskas.
“We have very high hopes for him as a player, as a shooter, and as a guy who can help us to stretch the floor, so there’s a lot of opportunities for him.”
The former Wolverine joins second-year guard Ben McLemore in the Purple and Black’s backcourt this year at the shooting guard position. The team hopes this solid mixture of youth and talent will be a recipe for success.
*Played with the University of Michigan Wolverines
While Stauskas’ deadly three-point shot is recognized and praised throughout the League, his ability to drive to the hoop, distribute the ball to his teammates and create open shots in traffic remain underrated parts of his game.
“As much as I’ve expanded my game over the last couple of years, shooting is definitely the thing I do best and I take pride in it,” he admits. “Coming in, I feel like when I get my feet set and I have a good look at the basket, there aren’t many people in the League who can knock down shots like I can.”
While his freshman season was highlighted his stellar perimeter shooting (44.3 3pt%), the Mississauga, Ontario native returned for his sophomore season to prove his worth as a complete basketball player. En route to 2014 Big Ten Conference Player of the Year honors and consensus All-American status, he led the Maize & Blue back to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 after a championship game appearance in 2013. Despite being just 20-years old, Stauskas was one of eight sophomores at U-M to reach 1,000 points in a career. In 75 total games in Ann Arbor, Sacramento’s rookie posted averages of 14.1 points (.467 FG%, .441 3pt%, .832 FT%), 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
No. 10 will join another top-ten Draft pick in 2014-15 as he pairs up with McLemore. Despite the fact both play the same position, the duo could see time on the court together.
“What I’ve seen is that Ben and Nik can play together without any problems,” stated Head Coach Micahel Malone during the team’s mini-camp practices in Las Vegas this summer. “They both have a pretty good understanding of the game and they play well off of each other. When you have two guys who have the potential to shoot as well as they do, it’s going to pose problems for other teams.”
Known for his athletic, high-flying offensive arsenal, No. 16 continues to add explosiveness and speed to The River City’s attack this year – two things D’Alessandro values.
A native of Wellston, Mo., McLemore started 55 games as a rookie last year and averaged 9.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.6 steals per contest. While he struggled with consistency in the early months of the NBA season, after the All-Star break the 21-year old started to find his groove. In the month of March alone, the former Jayhawk shot 42-percent from the floor and averaged 10.6 points per game. Finishing the month with five straight double-digit outings before ending the season with a career-high 31 points and 5 assists against Phoenix.
“I thought the way he played [the] last two months [of the season], especially to end the season, was phenomenal,” stated the Kings second-year head coach following the 2013-14 finale. “To go out on a career-high, getting to the foul line 15 times, shooting the ball with confidence – I’m proud of him. I think he has things to work on and he’ll come back a better player.”
Many eyes will be on the young sharpshooters during the 2014-15 campaign, but they remain a combination capable of producing at a high level and becoming an exciting offensive showcase in Sacramento’s backcourt.