Following to the close to an extremely entertaining and historic 2013-14 campaign for Charlotte, the team’s luck continued to remain in tact as they transitioned towards the off season. Despite being in the middle of the playoff picture, Charlotte still has an extremely solid lottery pick (9th overall) to continue to help with their climb up the Eastern Conference ladder.
During the build-up to the aforementioned NBA Draft, the other crew at Queen City Hoops have done an amazing job in terms of bringing a unique perspective towards the potential fit that the draft prospects could have with the Hornets organization. With that in mind, I’m going to take a more in-depth viewpoint at these prospects to examine their overall skills and possible fit with Charlotte.
Despite Charlotte’s shocking climb up the Eastern Conference standings during the 2013-14 season, a lingering concern that surrounded the Hornets pertained with their need for a consistent 3rd scoring option. While the duo of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson helped lead Charlotte to that aforementioned push to the playoffs, their offense still had their moments where they were extremely stagnant when either Kemba or Big Al was off the court. While Gerald Henderson definitely was able to showcase his ability to be a pretty solid mid-range shooter while also being able to penetrate to the rim, he really never was able to be that consistent and reliable offensive weapon for Steve Clifford and the Charlotte Hornets.
By being in possession of that 9th overall pick, Charlotte will have the golden opportunity to draft the prospect that could help shore up the team’s offense. One of the more appealing possible prospects that could help shore up that hole might be Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas. Standing at 6’5, Stauskas was able to define himself as one of the more well-rounded offensive guards in college basketball.
Stauskas’ main source of attack on the offensive end would be his extremely reliable and dangerous perimeter jumper. Among the other eligible prospects for this year’s draft, Stauskas sits at the top of the heap by shooting an unbelievable 45% from beyond the arc.
By working alongside Wolverines forward Mitch McGary, the 6’5 guard showcased himself as one of the better PnR guards in college basketball. One of the main reasons behind that is because Stauskas has the ability to work around the screen, stop on a dime and nail an open perimeter jumper. That consistency is clearly showcased by the simple fact that Stauskas shot .9 PPP (points per possession) when he’s working in off-the-dribble situations.
While Stauskas’ main offensive strength relies on his ability as a perimeter threat, the 6’5 guard has definitely made his impact as a slasher. During his two-year stint at Michigan, Stauskas has definitely improved as an all-around which is clearly showcased by his work in the PnR and ability to penetrate to the rim and get to the free throw line. On a per 40 minute basis, Stauskas was able to get to the free-throw line around 6.5 times which was a huge improvement over his freshman season.
As Stauskas ultimately makes that transition from college to the NBA, he’s going to be an extremely lethal scoring option if he plays alongside a solid, offensive-minded front-court player that could work in the pick and roll. Besides his superb ability as perimeter scorer, the 6’5 guard has also been able to showcase his skills as a distributor. Based around his aforementioned skills in the PnR, Stauskas is able to penetrate from the perimeter and kick it out to an open teammate. Despite his relatively young age, Stauskas is extremely solid in terms of making a simple play as a distributor. His unselfish nature has helped push Stauskas to having an extremely solid 1.71 Ast/TO ratio.
Even though Stauskas’ ability on the offensive end has elevated him to being a viable lottery option,`his performance on the other end is still extremely uncertain. While he’s been able to showcase his underrated athleticism on offense, the Michigan guard struggles to stay in front of his opponent on the defensive end. Perhaps it’s due to the combination of lateral quickness and strength, but the 6’5 guard has had continuous issues when it comes to defending the perimeter.
In addition to Stauskas’ perimeter defending issues, his overall effort on that end of the court could occasionally be lackluster. For example, when the 6’5 guard is working off-ball, he’s been to known to ball watch or completely completely lose track of the opposition.
With his defensive issues in mind, Nik Stauskas could be one of the best fits for Charlotte’s 9th overall pick. As previously mentioned, the 6’5 Michigan guard excels because of his perimeter ability and standout work in the pick and roll. As the Hornets are in continuous pursuit for that vaunted 3rd scoring option and perimeter threat, Stauskas could immediately fill into that role.
Another potentially solid possibility surrounding Charlotte drafting Stauskas would be his pairing with Al Jefferson. The 6’5 guards main offensive strengths (perimeter skills, mastery in the pick and roll and work as a distributor) could be the absolute perfect fit alongside the 6’11 Jefferson. By pairing up with Stauskas, Big Al could finally be able to pair up in the pick and roll with a stable perimeter threat who could also work as a distributor. With that in mind, Jefferson could also be a huge asset to Stauskas by being the perfect front-court partner that could help him with his perimeter shooting and penetration.
One of the biggest flaws that NBA teams could have about Stauskas pertains to his defensive issues. A move to Charlotte might be the best overall fit because of Steve Clifford’s defensive scheme. Besides the addition of Jefferson, Charlotte really didn’t change between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, but were still able to improve from being one of the worst (29th in the league in Opp PPG in 12-13) to one of the best (4th in OPPG in ’13-14) because of the overall defensive scheme of Steve Clifford. While his blatant flaws will still probably be showcased with the Hornets, Charlotte may be the perfect fit for Stauskas as he makes that transition to the NBA.