Nik Stauskas made a straight-line cut from the baseline to the top of the key, untouched and free from flailing arms and legs. He caught the part with his feet set, shoulders squared towards the basket. A five-year old can guess what happened after that particular set of trangressions, especially for a shooter the caliber of Stauskas.
The only problem? The successful double screen elevator play popularized by Golden State was the first set piece the Sacramento Kings ran for him the entire game. If you ask him if that’s a problem, he would – as a rookie – humbly say that he would keep his head down and do as the coaching staff suggests. This for a team that just let Isaiah Thomas go for a relatively small contract and signed Darren Collison, Carl Landry, traded for Rudy Gay, and are now looking to take on Josh Smith’s ironically perfect skillset for this deeply flawed roster.
Instead of evaluating the specific abilities of Ben McLemore – another highly touted lottery pick – and Stauskas as ballhandlers and shooters, they spent an entire playoff game against the Chicago Bulls showcasing MarShon Brooks and Ray McCallum. Granted, it’s Summer League, just one game, and Stauskas has actually averaged nearly 30 minutes per game. But the process with which the Kings are going about building some type of NBA team is puzzling in its conception and execution.
I wanted to write a puff piece on McLemore’s post-hype breakout in his sophomore season but much of his struggles might parlay into Stauskas’ rookie season. Another talented high pick, misused and miscast on a team without an identity.
Back to Stauskas’ prospects as an NBA player, it will be interesting to see how he’s used. If McCallum, Collison and McLemore are to be used as primary ballhandlers, then drafting Stauskas as a double-threat offensive weapon seems contradictory. For much of Summer League, Stauskas spent ample amounts of time standing in the corner staring into the Sacramento abyss. Three three-point attempts per game in nearly 30 minutes played is unacceptable for a player that could use much of these pickup games to gain a feel for the big leagues.
But maybe Stauskas, unlikely as it may seem, might turn into Stephen Curry and turn around a badly run franchise all by his lonesome. Curry had to fight through Keith Smart and his insane tendencies for Acie Law and Monta Ellis. But that’s as far-fetched as Vivek Ranadive comparing the rookie from Michigan to a combo between Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. But that’s how the Sacramento Kings operate nowadays. Whatever it is, nobody has any idea what’s going on there and it doesn’t look good for the future and development of Nik Stauskas.