Nik Stauskas

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Nik Stauskas trolls Ohio State fans, claims Thad Matta didn’t know who he was (PHOTO)

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Former Michigan wing Nik Stauskas couldn’t wait for Throwback Thursday to irk some Ohio State fans.

The 2013-14 Big Ten Player of the Year posted this 2013 picture on his Instagram page on Monday afternoon. It shows him staring down Buckeyes’ head coach Thad Matta in No. 3 Michigan’s 76-74 overtime win over No. 10 Ohio State. Stauskas, then a freshman, had 11 points, including three 3-pointers.

The caption reads: “… P.S the day before this game coach Matta was interviewed and didn’t know my name and didn’t know who I was. I took it personally.” That part is inaccurate. Stauskas was a starter for the Wolverines. You’d hope Matta would be familiar with the starting five of a Big Ten rival, especially one his team played against earlier that season.

The actual quote Stauskas is referring to, according to Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, was “The wing, No. 11, I have trouble saying his name.” Matta also said that prior to Ohio State’s first meeting with Michigan that season, a 56-53 win for the Buckeyes on Jan. 13, 2013.

[h/t College Spun]

Zak Irvin will be good, but he’s not the next Nik Stauskas

Zak Irvin (AP Photo)
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As a freshman, Nik Stauskas was the third or fourth option for Michigan, a sharpshooter used strictly to spread the floor.

An average offensive possession for Stauskas? Standing in the corner and spotting up, which would either create space for Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway Jr. to get to the rim or allow him a wide-open, catch-and-shoot three.

That was the role that he was asked to play.

The same can be said for Zak Irvin last season, another 6-foot-6 shooter that played limited minutes as a freshman whose primary role was spreading the floor for, you guessed it, Stauskas.

And as Brendan Quinn of MLive.com laid out in this column from Tuesday, there are some expectations for Irvin this season, namely that he will follow in Stauskas’ footsteps and become the centerpiece for Michigan’s offensive attack.

That, frankly, is unfair for a number of reasons.

Let’s start with the obvious: Stauskas was the Big Ten Player of the Year, a second team all-american and a lottery pick. Asking any player to fill those shoes puts unneeded pressure on them. Irvin can get better as a player and have a productive season for the Wolverines without coming close to that kind of performance.

But that’s not all: Irvin and Stauskas are very different players. Stauskas is excellent in pick-and-roll situations. He could cross people over, he could beat people off the dribble and he was a very good passer. Irvin had just four assists combined in Big Ten play and the postseason. He’s not going to thrive the way that Stauskas did as the centerpiece of John Beilein’s offensive attack.

You know who will?

Caris LeVert.

If there is anyone on Michigan who is going to act as a replacement for Stauskas, it is LeVert. The 6-foot-6 combo-guard is not the same caliber of athlete and he’s not as good of a passer or a shooter as Stauskas, but he can take over games and he can make plays with the ball in his hands in pick-and-roll actions. And don’t forget about Derrick Walton, who is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign.

Irvin has a chance to be a very good player at Michigan.

Just don’t expect him to be the next Nik Stauskas.

Fascinating look at Michigan’s increased use of the pick-and-roll

John Beilein
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Here’s a trivia question for you, one that I’m not sure that I could have answered until just a few minutes ago: Which team has posted the best single-season offense during the KenPom era (2002-2014)?

Give up?

It was Michigan this past season, as their adjusted offensive efficiency was 124.1, meaning, essentially, that on an average offensive possession, the Wolverines scored 1.241 points. That number barely beat out Chris Paul’s 2005 Wake Forest team and the 2012 Missouri team that won 30 games while playing with four sharp-shooting guards.

Crazy, right?

Perhaps what’s even more impressive is that the Wolverines were actually better offensively than they were when they had National Player of the Year Trey Burke, first round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr. and a healthy Mitch McGary during the 2013 season, when they “only” led the nation in offensive efficiency.

That’s not necessarily a huge surprise. Head coach John Beilein has been known as an offensive mastermind for a long time, and the last two years he’s coached two lottery picks — one of whom was National Player of the Year — two more first round picks and a trio of guards coming back this season that will have a shot at getting drafted in 2015. Give a brilliant x’s-and-o’s tactician NBA-level talent and the result is almost always going to be positive.

But what has made this offensive explosion so impressive is that Beilein has completely revamped the way that he coaches offensively. Back in his West Virginia days and his early seasons with the Wolverines, Beilein ran an offense that featured a two-guard front, plenty of movement and a number of different offensive sets. His first season at Michigan, the Wolverines used ball-screens just 4.6% of the time offensively.

And now, as UMHoops.com beautifully lays out, the Wolverines are running ball-screens on nearly 30% of their possessions. It’s why they are winning, and it’s a huge reason why his players are getting drafted as high as they are.

In 2013, everything that Michigan did ran through Trey Burke. It was his ability in the pick-and-roll, and the fact that the Wolverines spaced the floor with a myriad of sharp-shooters, that allowed them to make a run to the national title game. His ability in ball-screen actions is what made him appealing to NBA team.

The same can be said for Stauskas. If he couldn’t operate in the pick-and-roll as well as he did last season, he wouldn’t have been the No. 8 pick in the draft. He might not have been a first rounder.

And all this came from a change in coaching philosophy more than three decades into Beilein’s career.

(h/t UMHoops.com)

2014 NBA Draft Preview: The five safest picks in the draft

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than a week until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a look at the five safest projected first round picks:

One name you won’t see on this list: Andrew Wiggins.

There’s a reason for that.

I would take Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick. A lot of people would, and I can’t think of a situation where a team would be better off with Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid in the long run. That said, I understand that there are inherent risks with picking Wiggins. Does he have that killer instinct, that ability to take over when he needs to take over, that the greats have? Will he get to the point that he is strong enough to finish around the rim? Will he ever develop confidence in his ability to put the ball on the floor?

Wiggins has the highest ceiling of anyone in the draft, a healthy Embiid included. But he could also become the next Rudy Gay — or Gerald Green — if he doesn’t develop. He’s the smart pick, the right pick, at No. 1 overall, but that doesn’t make him a safe pick.

MOREUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | Top Ten Players in Five Years | Busts?

1. Jabari Parker, Duke

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 2), Chad Ford (No. 1)
  • Scott Phillips: “The favorite for 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year, Parker will be ready to score with advanced moves from his very first game. Parker will also rebound well from his position and showed in high school that he can be a better passer than he might have shown at times at Duke. Defense will be the big question mark for Parker, but he’s going to score and score frequently.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Parker is the most NBA-ready prospect in this year’s draft. He’ll be able to score the minute he arrives in training, and he should have a long and productive career averaging somewhere around 20 points. He won’t be a franchise-changing talent if he doesn’t work on his conditioning and defense, but he should develop into a perennial all-star.”
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2. Doug McDermott, Creighton

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 9), Chad Ford (No. 9)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “Best pure scorer in the Draft, but he needs to land in the right spot. While he won’t be a league scoring champ he’ll be a mainstay.”
  • RD: “McDermott’s upside is limited given his tweener status. Is he quick enough to defend on the perimeter? Is he big enough to defend in the post? What there are no questions about is his ability to shoot the ball, and while he may end up being a just spot-up shooter for his career, shooting is always a skill in demand. That’s why guys like Ray Allen and Mike Miller will get contracts until they can’t walk.”

RELATEDElfrid Payton, the Draft’s biggest sleeper | Balancing potential, running a program

3. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 10)
  • SP: “The NBA always needs shooters and always needs players that can operate a pick-and-roll and Stauskas does both things very well. He has a confidence to him that you want in a high-level shooter and he’s gotten much better each of the last two summers heading into the season.”
  • RD: “His rep is as a shooter, and while he does that as an elite level, he’s a much more well-rounded player than people realize: he’s really athletic, he can make plays off the bounce, he can pass, he’s got a swagger to him that will help at the next level. Like McDermott, at minimum his ability to shoot will keep him around.

4. Shabazz Napier, UConn

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 21), Chad Ford (No. 15)
  • RD: “Shabazz isn’t the quickest guy in the draft and he doesn’t have the size or athleticism of guys like Damian Lillard or Russ Westbrook, but he understands how to play and how to run a team. His change-of-pace makes him quicker than he is — he gets defenders off-balance — and he can really shoot the ball. Getting him in the 20s means a playoff team will be adding a quality back up point guard.”

5. Kyle Anderson, UCLA

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 25), Chad Ford (No. 21)
  • RD: “The kid just flat out understands how to play. There are always going to be questions about his athleticism, but he’s such a unique talent. Keep in mind: Boris Diaw is unathletic and slow by NBA standards and he has been a very effective player in two different systems. Anderson needs the right fit, but he’s an NBA player.”

2014 NBA Draft Preview: Top Ten Players in five years?

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source: AP

The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than two weeks until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a guess at who from this draft will be the ten best NBA players five years from now:

RELATEDUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | 2014 NBA Draft Preview

1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 1), Chad Ford (No. 2)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “I’ll take Wiggins over any other player in the pool. The offensive skills are there, and removing Embiid he’s the prospect best equipped to actually defend his position.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Wiggins had a very, very good season that was lambasted because he wasn’t Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley. Consistent effort and a ‘killer’ mindset are red flags, but he already carries himself like a pro: he knows what nights he can take off and what nights he needs to take over.”
  • Scott Phillips: “Wiggins can defend up to four positions at a high level, has elite open-floor ability and was underrated as a jump shooter last year, despite living under a microscope in Lawrence. His ceiling is absurd.”

2. Jabari Parker, Duke

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 2), Chad Ford (No. 1)
  • RJ: “Offensively his skill set is second to none, and that will make him an impact player. Defensively, the hope has to be that he ends up on a team that can cover for his deficiencies as he learns the ropes and (hopefully) improves in that area.”
  • SP: “Your 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year. Parker is one of the most NBA-ready scorers the drafthas seen in the last few years but he still has to improve on the defensive end to really be among the game’s elite.”
  • RD: “He can score like no one else in this draft. He was benched as a defensive liability against Mercer.”

3. Julius Randle, Kentucky

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 7), Chad Ford (No. 7)
  • Terrence Payne: “If his foot stays healthy, he should be a productive forward, who can develop his skillset around his physical style of play.”
  • RD: “Randle seems assured of having a long, productive career, but I’m not sure he’s a franchise-changing talent like a Wiggins or Parker can be. He’s somewhere between the next Zach Randolph and the next David Lee.”
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4. Joel Embiid, Kansas

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 4), Chad Ford (No. 6)
  • RD: “The concerns with Embiid’s health are obvious, which is why he ended up at fourth on this list despite being arguably the best prospect in a loaded draft class. He’s got foot and back issues, which is not a good thing for a big man, but Yao Ming made eight all-star teams with foot issues. Michael Jordan broke his foot. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a long, productive career after breaking his foot. It’s risky, but Embiid’s career isn’t over just yet.”
  • SP: “You have to remember that Embiid is still rather new to the game and the learning curve is incredibly steep in the NBA. It could take much longer than five years to learn how good Embiid really is. And what if Embiid is drafted by a franchise that doesn’t do a good job of developing big men, or get him a point guard that can get him the ball?”

5. Dante Exum, Australia

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 3), Chad Ford (No. 3)
  • SP: “The only player on this list I’ve never seen extensively in-person, I did get a chance to see Exum take part in the Combine drills and he’s a long and fluid guard who has a ton of upside. He immediately passes the ‘look test’. How Exum acclimates to the American game could determine how quickly he ascends in the league.”
  • RD: “Exum is talented. He’s also untested. We’ve yet to see him spend a full season going up against elite competition.”

6. Noah Vonleh, Indiana

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 5), Chad Ford (No. 4)
  • SP: “I might be a tad high on Vonleh, but his upside is just so tantalizing, given his size, skill level and age. Vonleh worked hard enough to add 25 pounds of muscle in one summer at Indiana and his jumper has improved immensely as well, to the point where he could be a pick-and-pop or maybe even a catch-and-shoot option in the NBA.”
  • RD: “Full disclosure: I had Vonleh as No. 3 on my list. I think he’s a perennial all-star.”

7. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 5)
  • TP: “Will be a solid team player given his defensive abilities. Hard to believe he wouldn’t improve his offensive skills in that span, as well.”
  • SP: “I really don’t get why teams aren’t higher on Aaron Gordon? He’s a tremendous athlete and defender, ultra competitive and he doesn’t try to do too much at this point with the ball in his hands. His development on the offensive end will be a big key in how good he’ll really be.”

8. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 9), Chad Ford (No. 10)
  • RJ: “The gains Stauskas made from his freshman to sophomore year with regards to his skill set, physical build and athleticism bode well for his future in the NBA.”
  • SP: “His shooting percentages are ridiculous, he’s improved each of the last two years and he’s deceptive as a ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. The body fat percentage and lack of lateral quickness is a bit of a concern on the defensive end, but you know what you’re getting out of Stauskas as an offensive player and there’s a lot to like.”

9. James Young, Kentucky

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 17), Chad Ford (No. 14)
  • RD: “He can score, he’s a better shooter than he showed last season, and he’s a lefty, which always seems to give people problems. The biggest issue is whether he’ll learn to defend at the next level.”
  • SP: “Young is so smooth and so skilled on the wing that it’s hard for me to believe that his shooting percentages will remain as low as they were at Kentucky. Again, as with Julius Randle, Young could benefit from playing around teammates that aren’t so ball-dominant and playing with guards that can put him in a better position to score.”
  • RJ: “He was Kentucky’s best player in the national title game, and his ability to score from the perimeter and put the ball on the deck will help with the transition.”

10. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 12), Chad Ford (No. 12)
  • RD: “The NBA is infatuated with big, athletic, aggressive guards, and that’s precisely what Payton can do. He’s got the length and quickness to be a defensive menace at the next level as well. Now he just needs to learn how to shoot.”
  • TP: “I think this is going to be the mid-first round pick who has the greatest impact. He’s still very young for being a college junior. Has the tools to be a good on both ends of the floor, and that’s without a consistent 3-point shot.”

Also receiving votes: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Gary Harris, (Michigan State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Doug McDermott (Creighton)

NCAA wouldn’t allow televised three-point shooting contest between Nik Stauskas and Steph Curry

Nik Stauskas
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CHICAGO — Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas was one of the best shooters in college basketball last season, but the 6-foot-6 reigning Big Ten Player of the Year wanted more recognition for his shooting prowess outside of the college hoops world.

After posting a video of himself shooting in the rain last summer in his backyard in Canada, buzz began to generate on social media regarding Stauskas knocking in 46 straight three-pointers and 70 of 76 three-pointers overall. Stauskas was a 44 percent three-point shooter in his two seasons at Michigan, so the shooting display wasn’t much of a surprise.

 

Enter Stephen Curry, the former Davidson star who is one of the best shooters in the world with the Golden State Warriors. Curry is a 44 percent career three-point shooter in the NBA and noticed Stauskas’ video and challenged him to a three-point shooting contest over Twitter.

 

Stauskas responded to Curry’s challenge on Friday at the 2014 NBA Draft combine by recounting the story of what happened.

“I put out a video on YouTube and it was me hitting 46 threes in a row in the rain,” Stauskas said on Friday. “I posted it on YouTube and that first day a lot of people were seeing it and it made a little bit of a buzz and all of the sudden I just saw my Twitter feed going crazy and I’m like, ‘who tweeted about this?’ And I look and Steph Curry had retweeted it and he challenged me to a three-point contest on Twitter. So then it progressed from there. I responded to it and I’m like, ‘sure.’ I got in contact with his people and we tried to make it happen but it never worked out.”

According to Stauskas, the three-point shooting contest nearly happened. And it was nearly a televised event.

“He challenged me!,” Stauskas said. “We tried to do it and the NCAA had some restrictions with playing against a professional and having a competition. It was going to be a televised event but it couldn’t happen. Hopefully we can make it happen one day.”

Leave it to the NCAA to ruin something fun. Stauskas maintains that the competition would have been held in his backyard, giving the Canadian a distinct homecourt advantage.

“It was going to be in my backyard. TSN — the Canadian ESPN — was willing to broadcast it. His people set a date for mid-July. (That’s) when they wanted to do it. Of course, I checked with Tom Wywrot, our media guy. Of course there were some NCAA violations so we couldn’t do it.”

Stauskas in confident that he could still beat Curry in the contest and wants to see it happen eventually.

“Yeah, he’s not beating me in my backyard. That’s my court, man,” Stauskas said with a laugh.

In an ironic twist, the Golden State Warriors interviewed Stauskas on Thursday and the Michigan wing spoke with legendary shooter and NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West.

“I interviewed with them last night. Jerry West was there,” Stauskas said of the Warriors. “It was one of those things, I walked in the room and saw Jerry and was immediately a little starstruck. He’s a legend.”

Although Stauskas knows West’s reputation as a shooter — the man is The Logo, after all — he’s still confident enough as a shooter that he believes he could beat the former NBA legend.

“He couldn’t take me anymore,” Stauskas said laughing. “Maybe back in the day.”