Nik Stauskas Ready for a Reset
Guard arrives in Brooklyn aiming to fit into 3-point attack
For a player with the profile of Nik Stauskas, there are few places better to land than Brooklyn.
The fourth-year guard has taken 56 percent of his career field goal attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, and with the Nets he’s joining a team second in the NBA with 33.8 3-point attempts per game.
“I’m very excited,” said Stauskas. “From talking with coach (Kenny) Atkinson, the offense that they run here, I feel like I’m very suitable for that. It’s something I’m comfortable doing. When I first came here, I can’t remember who it was, someone told me to shoot to kill. I think that’s a good motto to live by and I’m excited to get involved in that.”
Stauskas spoke Monday at HSS Training Center prior to his first practice with the Nets. Acquired from Philadelphia last Thursday along with Jahlil Okafor and a second-round draft pick in exchange for Trevor Booker, he and Okafor had an hour-long individual workout with Atkinson on Sunday morning.
“All three of us worked together yesterday morning,” said Stauskas. “I don’t know how, they said they got back from Mexico City pretty late. But he was in here yesterday morning and we got a good workout in.”
Selected eighth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by Sacramento, Stauskas was dealt to Philadelphia after his rookie season and started 62 games for the 76ers over the last two years. Playing time was tighter this year. Dealing with an ankle injury, Stauskas has appeared in just six games this season, playing 45 minutes.
“I’m just happy with the new change of scenery,” said Stauskas. “I feel like I get a chance to press the reset button. I’m just looking to come in here and get better every day. The first thing I noticed from coming in here was how big they are in player development and getting better every day. That’s something that I truly believe in, and that’s something that’s helped me get to this point in my career, so hopefully I can continue doing that.”
Stauskas arrives from Philly in tandem with one teammate, but another is waiting for him. He and LeVert were part of the same recruiting class at the University of Michigan. They were freshmen during the 2013-14 season on the Wolverines’ national runner-up team in the NCAA Tournament.
The following year Stauskas departed for the NBA after being named the Big Ten player of the year. LeVert stayed for two more injury-shortened seasons before being drafted in the first round in 2016.
“I’ve stayed in touch a little bit with Caris but I didn’t know too much about how the organization ran,” said Stauskas. “But from when I got here the last couple of days talking to Caris, all he said is first-class organization on and off the court. That’s something I’m excited to be a part of. Caris and I go back to the Michigan days. We were very close. We were roommates for two full years. We spent a lot of time together on and off the court too. I feel like we’re pretty close.”
A 44.1-percent 3-point shooter in college, Stauskas has yet to shoot with such accuracy in the NBA. He’s a 34.3-percent 3-point shooter on 1,479 attempts in 232 games with the Kings and Sixers.
The fact that Stauskas fits the Brooklyn profile well – a 6-foot-6 wing with potential as a 3-point threat – means he’s far from alone on the roster. He joins a crowd of rangy wings, from his 6-7 former teammate LeVert to 6-5 Joe Harris and 6-6 Allen Crabbe.
“It’s always going to be competitive,” said Stauskas. “These are the best players in the world, so I think no matter where you end up you’re always going to be competing against someone for a job. That’s just the way the business goes. The sooner you can wrap your head around that, the easier it’s going to be. I know obviously these guys the guards they have are very talented. Even with D’Angelo (Russell) and Jeremy (Lin), them being out with injury, those are another two guards that are very talented. Every day you just have to compete for your job. You have to show up and work hard and hope for the best after that.”