Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Film breakdown: Nik Stauskas

Here's a film breakdown of Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas.

Film breakdown: Nik Stauskas

Michigan guard Nik Stauskas. (AJ Mast/AP)
Michigan guard Nik Stauskas. (AJ Mast/AP)

We started examining potential picks for the Sixers at the No. 10 when we looked at former Creighton Star, Doug McDermott.

Though the club would need McDermott to slip some for them to really get a crack at him, let’s examine a player that should be available at the No. 10 spot come draft day: Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan, sophomore, 6-foot-6, 207 lbs

Best Case Scenario: Klay Thompson

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Strengths

  • Fantastic shooter with his feet set and off the dribble, can pull up out of the pick and roll and from the corner and was used excellently in Coach Beilein’s dribble handoff offense from the top of the key 
  • Great shooting mechanics with a smooth release and plenty of range, best prospect in the draft in catch and shoot situations 
  • The ability to rise up out of a dribble handoff makes him more valuable as a shooter in the NBA 
  • Improved as a slasher and as a ball handler especially out of the pick and roll, can read plays very well and make high IQ shots from the mid range or from the perimeter 
  • Possesses a one-dribble step back jumper that has frozen defenders, very unique usage of the move as opposed to a regular step-back 
  • Unselfish player that improved his penetrating abilities with the ball in his hand, can dribble-drive-kick or drive and dish, very efficient passer out of the pick and roll. Improved as a passer and can split the pick and roll, plays with a good pace out of it 
  • Can create his own shot off the dribble as well, a trait that separates him from other high-level guards in this class, has also shown improved athleticism this season with the ball in his hands more, can finish above and around the rim 
  • Draws contact around the rim, saw a more than 50% increase in his free throw attempts per 40 minutes this season 
  • Has shown potential to be a good player when isolated on the perimeter, has a little shake in his crossover and can attack the rim in straight line drives after using ball-fakes or pump-fakes 
  • Great elevation on his shot, gets his feet set quickly for jumpers

Weaknesses

  • Though he has the capabilities to be more than just a shooter, his lack of speed could relegate him to being a one dimensional, spot up pro, not very fluid even though he’s increased his athletics
  • Lack of foot speed and overall quickness, will make it hard for him to defend the pick and roll and get around screens, will question his ability to get by elite, lanky or athletic defenders
  • Lacks physicality, strength and the ability to create consistently
  • Wasn’t a great defender at the collegiate level, gets lost sometimes on the floor, very low upside to be a better defender and struggles containing penetration
  • Not very active or physical off the ball and doesn’t use any strength to box out
  • Gets taken off the dribble a lot when he’s guarding the perimeter, doesn’t keep his body in front of the man he’s defending 1v1, doesn’t always contend perimeter shots or close out jumpers, gets caught on screens, has a habit to stand and watch the ball
  • Though he has improved his ability to create, he struggles against NBA-caliber defenders (Gary Harris, Michigan State/Yogi Ferrell, Indiana), at the NBA level he will be considered more of a shooter before a playmaker in his first few years
  • Doesn’t finish well vs. length, gets his shot altered a lot around the rim

Now let’s breakdown a few plays where Stauskas looked his best:

***First, it needs to be understood that whoever gets Stauskas, that team will be getting a man who loves his protein. Please observe how Michigan created a one-of-a-kind being known to the world as (drum-roll) JACKED STAUSKAS***

 

1) Michigan vs. Iowa, Stauskas’ shooting ability

Now that we know our boy Nik (Nikky?) likes his protein on EVERYTHING, we can check out how he torched Iowa during some B1G action this season. 

In this clip, Stauskas is primarily being used as a trailer with 2013 American hero and Kate Upton-date-asker Spike Albrecht serving as the primary point man

Because the Iowa defense decided that now was a good time not to turn around, Stauskas gets his feet set quickly and is ready to launch as soon as the pass that Albrecht sent him hits its mark

And by time he launches the ball its, of course, much too late to stop the shot. Bang-bang, Stauskas-gang.

Off the Pick-And-Roll

Stauskas was also very good pulling up in the P&R, sometimes using his unorthodox step-back move to create a great deal of space when being guarded heavily. In this shot, an Iowa defender is looking to close in on him after the P&R develops.

Morgan begins to roll from the high post and Stauskas could easily swing a pass to him as he cuts to the basket, but instead, Stauskas takes it himself off the dribble

Stauskas gets his defender shaking and uses a quick power-dribble and a step-back combination to get him wobbling

After that it’s all over. Bang-Bang, Stauskas-Gang.

2) Michigan vs. Michigan State, Stauskas’ vision

Stauskas was very efficient and improved his vision a great deal, but especially in the pick-and-roll for Michigan this season. In this clip, Gary Harris is guarding him after the P&R comes.

Michigan State’s defense starts collapsing the high post on Stauskas to stop his penetration, not a bad idea, but there still is Jon Horford just sliding to the basket. NBD guys. NBD.

Horford slips all the way to the lane and two guards bum-rush Stauskas, which is when he finally gives up the ball to the open man.

The ending here is pretty simple. But it all started with the P&R and the ability to get someone free out of the high-post.

3) Michigan vs. Texas, Stauskas’ ball-fakes and how fast he gets his feet set

In the NCAA Tournament, Stauskas is cornered by a few Texas defenders on the weakside wing and can’t find a way to get out without doing some sort of ball fake, something he happens to be good at.

He’s eyed down by two players but still manages to take care of his defender.

He gets his man in the air and then quickly, very quickly, sets his feet for a shot while the help defender is closing in.

Stauskas gets his feet set in less than a second and ready to launch, it’s quickness like that in his shooting ability and mechanics that will make him deadly at the next level.

Final Analysis: With Stauskas improving his game so much after he got the ball plenty at Michigan this year, he’ll turn out to be a dominant shooter at the NBA level because of the quickness that he has getting his shot off and keeping the fluidity of his shooting mechanics. He can create with the ball and is improving in isolation sets so the hope is that he continues to improve at this rate and he can be used as more than a one-dimensional shooter.

But there is a fear that he’ll turn out to be just that.

How he’ll fit with the Sixers: Stauskas could fit well with the Sixers off the bench or in a Sixth Man role. In transition he can be used as a trailer or out of the pick-and-roll finding other players in stride or setting up his own quick jumper. The part that worries many is if he can create at the NBA level because he can’t defend at all and will his quickness getting his shot off also be strong at the next level.

With Brett Brown coaching him, the assumption is that he could turn into a player like Klay Thompson that can average around 12 points his first year and steadily increase next to a solid pass-first point guard like Michael Carter-Williams.

But if he doesn’t progress or improve his ball skills, he’ll turn out as a one-dimensional shooter. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Sixers, who couldn’t hit a barn with a bazooka from the perimeter. Shooting is what they need desperately, so it seems like a win-win with Stauskas.

Get the full Sixerville experience at PhillyDailyNews.com.

About this blog
Bob Cooney has been at the Daily News for more than 20 years, working in the sports department for the past 15. This is his third season on the Sixers beat. He has covered just about everything, but mostly college basketball, where he was the La Salle beat writer for six seasons. E-mail Bob at cooneyb@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter.

Bob Cooney
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