All Offense, No Defense: Nik Stauskas to the Sacramento Kings
Nik Stauskas was one of the most heralded recruits in the nation heading into his freshman year at the University of Michigan. The young Wolverine backed up the hype with an impressive freshman campaign, averaging 11 points, 3 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 46.3% from the floor, including 44% from behind the arc.
When Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. left Ann Arbor to head to Salt Lake City and New York City respectively, Michigan basketball needed a new leader. Stauskas filled in that void perfectly. The Michigan star was not only the team's emotional leader, but he was their best player on the court, averaging 17.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists per game while shooting an impressive 47% from the field and 44.2% from three-point range.
As good as Stauskas is on the offensive end, he doesn't always perform up to par on the defensive end. With a 109 defensive rating and only 1.1 defensive win shares in his sophomore campaign at Michigan, Stauskas needs to seriously improve on the defensive end if he is going to be a complete player in the NBA.
After a handshake and a hug from Adam Silver, the former Wolverine now finds himself wearing a Sacramento Kings hat to match his tacky suit. Although Stauskas will have an immediate impact for the Kings on the offensive end, there's still a gaping hole in Sacramento where a strong defensive presence is needed.
How does Stauskas fit in in Sactown? Let's take a look:
A Sleeping Giant on Offense?
The Sacramento Kings weren't particularly impressive on the offensive end last season, but not due to a lack of talent. Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins all averaged more than 20 points per game last season, but despite having a number of players who were supposed to be offensive studs, not a single other Kings' player averaged double digit points.
Drafting Stauskas will help change that immediately. After adding the Wolverine star into the mix, the Kings backcourt projects to be as explosive as any in the league, if (and that's a big if) they can play close to their potential. With Isaiah Thomas and Ray McCallum running the point and Ben McLemore and Stauskas spreading the floor, the Kings have a tremendous stable of young guards who should be able to open up the paint for guys like Gay and Cousins.
Specifically, what Stauskas brings to the Kings is the steady three-point threat that they have been lacking. Other than Jimmer Fredette who shot 49.3% from beyond the arc (on just 1.8 attempts in 11.3 minutes per game), the Kings don't have a single player who shot better than 40% from three. McLemore was billed as a great shooter coming out of college but shot only 32% from behind the arc last season. If Stauskas can shoot close to as well as he did in college he will provide the Kings with exactly what they need on the offensive end.
The Kings were already one of the worst defensive teams in the league with the eighth-worst defensive efficiency rating in the NBA last season. Stauskas will not help that cause.
Cousins was the Kings' best defensive player last season with a 101 defensive rating, which means Sacramento did not have a single player with a defensive rating better than 100. That's horrible. Additionally, the Kings only had three players (Cousins, Thomas and Gay) add three or more defensive win shares last season. Not very good at all.
Stauskas' 109 defensive rating and 1.1 defensive win shares would have both been tied for ninth on a poor defensive Kings team. Although the former Wolverine adds a ton of value on offense, he doesn't help an already ailing team on the defensive end.
Where Stauskas Might Fit into the Lineup
The biggest question about this pick for Sacramento is that Stauskas is a very similar player to McLemore, the Kings' 2013 first-round pick. The reason why this pick makes sense, though, is because McLemore was incredibly unimpressive in his rookie campaign. McLemore posted an abysmal -8.1 nERD this past season. That ranked last on a Kings' team that only had two total players (Cousins and Thomas) with positive nERD.
If the Kings insert Stauskas into the starting lineup with Thomas, Gay, Cousins and Derrick Williams, that's a formidable starting five on the offensive end. They'll just lack a true defensive presence. I truly believe that this move is a step in the right direction for the Kings, but they have to take a few more steps before they even sniff the playoffs in the West.