The 2014 NBA Draft will be a historic one for Canadian basketball, with as many as seven players from Canada - three of them as high as the first round - possibly selected. In the days leading up to the draft, TSN.ca and TSN Radio basketball analyst Duane Watson looks at some of the names that will be headlining the event. Tonight, Michigan's Nik Stauskas of Mississauga, Ontario. Watch the 2014 NBA Draft on TSN, Thursday at 7pm et/4pm pt.
Name: Nik Stauskas
From: Mississauga, Ontario
Played: University of Michigan
Position: Shooting Guard
2013-2014 Stats: 17.5 points, .442 3P%, 3.3 assists
Breakout Game: 26 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds in win vs. Iowa Jan 22nd.
Accolades: 2013 - '14 Big 10 Player of the Year, Second team All-American
Draft Projection: Middle of first round
Comparable NBA player: Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Nik Stauskas has become the poster boy for “hard work pays off.” After a solid freshman season, helping the Wolverines to compete in the NCAA championship game, two key teammates in Trey Burke (Naismith Player of the Year) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (NBA All-Rookie First Team) moved on to the pros.
In only his sophomore year, Stauskas was expected to be a team leader, so he spent his summer adding muscle mass, working on his lateral quickness and creating his own shot off the dribble. Stauskas's YouTube videos offer a glimpse into his incredible work ethic and the results of his second year were apparent; a Big 10 title and trip to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament for the Wolverines, while leading the team in scoring and assists and named Big 10 Player of the Year.
Stauskas's greatest skill is his ability to flat-out shoot the ball. Unquestionably the best shooter in the draft with a quick release, Stauskas has little issue getting his shot off. His playmaking has improved and he can facilitate for others off of the pick-and-roll, forcing defenders to play him honestly. His quickness allows him to beat slower defenders off the dribble, rounding out his offensive game to be more than simply a spot-up shooter.
On the defensive end, Stauskas needs some work, particularly with strength and quickness defending at the next level. Not a surprising drawback to elite shooters, but not one that can't be compensated for in team defences.
Stauskas refuses to back down and that refusal to lose is one of those intangibles sought in any NBA prospect. When told that he would only be a shooter, Stauskas rounded out his game. When told that he couldn't carry a team, he led them deep into the NCAA Tournament. Steps to improve his defensive game are already underway, as any obstacle that is put in front of Stauskas has been overcome. His drive, coupled with his confidence, make it difficult to overlook a player with the aptitude and skills he possesses.
Stauskas will continue to work and hone his game as he continues to prove that hard work pays off.