It's been almost a month now since the NBA draft took place and with free agency through its main stages, now is the best time to evaluate certain draft picks and their fit with new teams now that most of the cards have been played. Many analysts were critical of the Sacramento Kings when they selected Nik Stauskus, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year with the eighth pick. Criticisms did not center around Stauskus being worthy or not of a top ten selection, but rather what his role would be and the way he fits into a crowded Kings backcourt.
That being said, let's take a closer look at how Nik Stauskus fits in with his first professional team.
It's easy to compare Stauskus to a fellow lights out shooter who came into the league with the Kings not too long ago in Jimmer Fredette. Some of those comparisons are valid given their similar skill sets and rise among the ranks of college basketball's elite players the year they declared. However, the two situations are very different. Fredette came to a Kings organization that at the time was on the verge of being sold. There was dysfunction top to bottom, regular coaching and front office turnovers and no on-court leadership to attempt to learn from. Basically, Fredette was brought in to put people in their seats as many feel he was selected way too high in that draft and his NBA production to date suggests those feelings are justified. Often times when comparing players, it's easy to look at measurable and skill sets and draw conclusions, but many forget the stability and leadership of an organization, along with a need for that player's role is just as critical.
Luckily for Stauskus, he is entering a Kings organization that appears to be on the upswing as new ownership has settled in Sacramento (they were rumored to be moving to Seattle) and are now beginning to build the right way. Stauskus is entering the league with a reputation as a sharpshooter on the wing but with the ability to play the point in a stretch. It's rare for true combo guards to be able to come out of college as many (like former Kings first round pick Tyreke Evans) have a hard time adjusting to the point if they don't have the shooting ability to make it as an NBA 2 guard.
At the time of the draft the Kings had five guards on their roster: Reserve player Jared Cunningham, Isaiah Thomas, veteran Jason Terry, and last year's first and second round picks Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum. Since then the Kings have shipped off Thomas to the Suns and acquired point guard Darren Collison in free agency and obviously, added Stauskus.
The biggest question people were asking after the draft was why the Kings drafted Stauskus just one year after selecting McLemore, when they basically play the same position and do the same things on the court. But as free agency has unfolded things have become a little clearer as to the Kings plan moving forward. People forget Stauskus is much more of a playmaker with the ball in his hands while McLemore is more of a pure catch and shoot type of player. It has been reported that the Kings are looking to deal Jason Terry and hopefully land Josh Smith from Detroit. That could give them the flexibility to play Smith at the 4 and allowing Stauskus and McLemore to operate on the wings together. In the modern day NBA you can never have enough shooting. The Kings have added the top one in the past two classes and it looks like there are some things to start getting excited about in Sacramento again.