This is the 20th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Nik Stauskas.
NIK STAUSKAS, Michigan
6-foot-6, 205 pounds
HIS STORY: Hands down, the most improved player in college basketball last year was Nik Stauskas. As a freshman in 2012-13, he was just a pure knockdown shooter (44 percent from 3-point range) on a team that went to the national championship game. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway left for the NBA and the Wolverines wondered how they were going to create offense. Stauskas stepped up and into that role. He completely changed his game, going from being solely a stand-still shooter to an all-around offensive threat. He led the Wolverines to the No. 1 ranking in offensive efficiency (kenpom.com) and they made it to the Elite Eight, where they were eliminated by Kentucky. His assists per game jumped from 2.0 to 3.3, and he averaged 17.5 points in earning the Player of the Year award in the Big 10, the most difficult league in college basketball last year. He was remarkably efficient shooting: 44 percent from 3-point range, 50 percent from 2-point range and 85 percent from the free-throw line (True Shooting 64 percent, 30th in the nation).
HIS STRENGTHS: As much as Stauskas developed his game, he’s still the best pure shooter in this draft. At 6-foot-6 with a high, quick release, if he’s open . . . count it. And if he’s guarded tight, there's still a good chance it’s going down. He showcased a remarkably sound ability to play out of the pick-and-roll last year. He reads situations well, uses his body wisely to get by guys and has sneaky explosion and athleticism going to the rim (35 1/2-inch vertical at the NBA combine). He’s strong and confident on the ball and GMs love the improvement they’ve seen in just one offseason from freshman to sophomore. There is no reason to not expect more from this talented 20-year-old.
HIS WEAKNESSES: Primarily focused on his physical attributes. While a good leaper and quick to the basket, there are questions about his ability to guard guys on the wing. He has good size for the shooting-guard position but not great lateral quickness. He’ll have to use his length to his advantage by giving guys space, trying to keep them in front, and contesting shots late with his reach and good leaping ability. Another issue that arose at the NBA combine: Stauskas measured 12 percent body fat, highest among all participants. This doesn’t help alleviate the questions around his quickness and potential physical limitations.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? I’d love to see Stauskas wearing Green, but they need to take him at No. 17, not No. 6. He was part of a crew of guards that worked out for the C’s on Friday and all reports were good. The problem is right now he seems like a guy who will be taken in the back part of the lottery. I think he’ll be a very good pro who can step in, play and score right away . . . exactly what the Celtics need. But at the sixth pick, I think he’d be a stretch. At the 17th, he’d be a steal.
COMING ON MONDAY: Zake LaVine of UCLA