SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The 2014 NBA Draft was held on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Sacramento Kings owned the eighth pick and selected Michigan guard Nik Stauskas.
Stauskas turned pro after two wildly successful years in Ann Arbor. As a freshman, Stauskas averaged 11.0 points on 46.3 percent shooting and helped Michigan advance to the national championship game for the first time in 20 years. Stauskas followed that with an outstanding sophomore season when he averaged 17.5 points per game on 47.0 percent shooting. Stauskas was the Big 10 Player of the Year and led the Wolverines to the Elite Eight. Stauskas parlayed his success at the collegiate level into a lottery pick of the Kings.
“This is a huge honor for me,” said Stauskas, who was born in Etobicoke, Ontario and was the second Canadian taken in the draft behind top pick Andrew Wiggins. “This is something I’ve been working towards since I was 7 years old. The fact that I’m sitting here in front of all you guys now is just — I can’t put this into words. I’m excited to be a member of the Sacramento Kings. I’ve only heard good things about the city and the organization. So I’m excited to get to work and help this team win.”
With DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, the Kings needed a player who can stretch the floor and knocked down outside shots on a consistent basis. Last season, Sacramento finished 27th in three-point percentage (.333). Stauskas should be able to help with that from day one. He is considered by many to be the best shooter in this draft. Stauskas shot 44 percent from downtown in college.
“I know they struggled with shooting the basketball in the past,” said Stauskas, who shared a special handshake with his father Paul after his name was called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “Immediately, I think I can be a guy that comes in and helps stretch the floor and knock down shots for them. So I’m excited to do that.”
Stauskas was asked if he was surprised to be off the board so early in the draft when most experts had him going in the early teens.
“Not necessarily,” said Stauskas. “I knew coming in today that Sacramento was a possibility. I knew they felt strongly about me. To be honest, I feel like I bring a skill set that not many people have. I bring a skill set that is needed in the NBA. I really take pride in being the eighth pick in the draft and I’m not going to let them down.”
The questions on Stauskas will be on his defense. With time and a ton of hard work, Stauskas believes he will be more than just an average defender at the NBA level.
“I can improve my body and putting on more strength and speed,” said Stauskas. “I think that’s going to come with time. I’m only 20 years old and I feel like I haven’t fully grown into my body yet. I think I can be a capable defender at the next level. I know I’ve got to put in a lot of work and effort. It’s been that case my whole career and I’ve made the necessary strides all the time.”
Stauskas also believes he will fit in with Ben McLemore, a fellow shooting guard whom the Kings also drafted high in the lottery last year.
“I think I can play multiple positions,” said Stauskas. Moving forward in the NBA, I think I can play a little bit of one and also the two. I know this team kind of struggled shooting the ball and obviously that’s probably the best part of my game to this point. Knocking down shots and spreading the floor is definitely something I’m excited to do for this team.”