It was a scene similar to many in the NBA Draft Thursday night in Brooklyn: A team spending a first-round pick on a player who fills the same needs as a player that team selected a year ago.
The Sacramento Kings were one of those teams, selecting Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 overall just 12 months after taking Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore with the seventh overall choice.
Don’t misunderstand: Stauskas is a heckuva a shooter, a kid who knocked down 44 percent of his 3-point attempts in two years at the University of Michigan.
Stauskas averaged 17.5 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 35.6 minutes per game, shooting a slash line of .470/.442/.824.
He was a consensus All-American and led the Wolverines back to the Elite Eight, where they lost a tough 75-72 decision to Kentucky a season after falling in the national championship game.
Stauskas is the wrong pick for the Kings, though, just because he’s redundant.
Coach Michael Malone told Cowbell Kingdom that it’s not necessarily an indictment of McLemore’s game that the Kings took Stauskas and sees no reason why the two can’t play together.
“I think people automatically assume we take Nik Stauskas, that means we don’t appreciate or love Ben and that’s not the case,” Malone said. “Ben McLemore has had an unbelievable summer so far. He’s worked very, very hard. He’s gotten better and I know he’s anxious to show that in summer league in Vegas in a couple weeks, but both of those guys can play together.”
Considering that McLemore posted the lowest player efficiency rating (7.7—the average is 15) in the NBA among players with at least 50 games and 25 minutes per game, getting better would seem to be at the very least a place to start.
Yes, Stauskas showed some ability to create off the dribble. But that doesn’t make him a point guard. With options 1a and 1b for the Kings already in place with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, having two shooting guards trying to play together makes zero sense on the surface.
Despite what Malone says, I think the selection of Stauskas has to be a precursor to some sort of additional move, and if that is the case, then it makes the pick a lot more defensible.
For instance, if McLemore were to be part of a package for a point guard (I’ve heard tell that some guy in Boston might be available), then Stauskas works because he has a spot to play.
The Kings went into the draft with three needs—point guard, rim protection and defensive help. Stauskas doesn’t address any of those needs.
That’s why as of right now, Nik Stauskas was the wrong pick.