Nik Stauskas proved he could be a valuable member of a great team in his freshman campaign as he contributed 11 points per game on 50% 2 point shooting and 44% 3 point shooting on a Michigan team that ended the season as runner-up to Louisville. Entering his second season, Stauskas will look to prove that his elite shooting was not a fluke as he attempts to replicate his success from long range.
Stauskas is measured at 6'6, which is comparable to players who fill similar roles in the NBA, although he needs to fill his 205 pound frame out to be able to withstand the physical play of the NBA. Overall,his physical attributes leave much to be desired, as neither his speed, leaping ability or lateral movement will blow anyone away.
Stauskas' most translatable skill by far is his perimeter shooting. His 44% from 3's ranked first among all freshman playing at least 30 minutes
. He did go through a slump in the middle of conference play, shooting 37% in January and 33% in February but recovered nicely by closing out the season by shooting 41% in March.
Complementing his catch and shoot skills is a well developed shot off the dribble after a shot fake then one or two dribbles, where he shot 39%, according to Synergy Sports. He rarely used his dribble to get all the way to the rim, averaging only two free throws per game. Stauskas struggled when he did get to the rim, as he avoided contact in the paint which caused him to throw up off balance attempts or get his shot blocked. Adding some strength may help in this area, as he may be more willing to absorb contact at the rim which will help him draw fouls or begin to finish through contact.
Stauskas was not asked to do much on the defensive end, often guarding the weakest perimeter player on the opposing team. Even still, he had a tendency to get beat off the dribble either by pure speed or by the offensive player knocking him off balance.
He has a strong work ethic on this side of the court, as he focuses on making the proper rotations and then closing out hard on shooters. However, his physical tools hinder his ability to be a great defender, as he is slow to step in front of driving players and a bit too small to challenge jump shooters. He will need to focus on making the right rotations to be in the proper positions, even if he can't always stop the offensive player, which will put him in the position to be successful even if he can't always execute defensively.
With Trey Burke leaving for the NBA, Stauskas may be asked to handle the ball a bit more to take some pressure off Spike Albrecht and freshman Derrick Walton. He has decent ball handling skills but may struggle in a larger role with taking care of the ball, initiating the offense and finding his own shot. He does have decent vision which allows him to add some value to the offense by being able to find open men out of the halfcourt set although this may be hard to replicate with a larger role handling the ball.
It's clear what Stauskas can provide at the next level, as there is room on nearly every NBA roster for a player who can camp on the perimeter and catch and shoot from long range. Stauskas will need to show he can maintain his high percentage on 3's this season to get a chance to make his way into that role. It would be nice for Stauskas to further develop his game outside his perimeter shooting, so that he can find some offense in other ways at a high-level. In order to become a viable draft candidate, he'll have to maintain his status as an elite shooter without becoming a total liability on the defensive end.