Nik Stauskas and his greatest skill

Nik Stauskas and his greatest skill

Cowbell Kingdom

Nik Stauskas and his greatest skill

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Contrary to popular belief, Nik Stauskas’ greatest skill is not inciting people with his postgame comments. The Sacramento Kings rookie is a stunningly accurate shooter, which Stormtroopers and Dick Cheney equally envy.

This wasn’t always the case. Stauskas loved basketball from an early age, but like so many clumsy kids, the Canadian struggled to expand his range.

“I had a really strange form up until I was 13 or 14 years old,” Stauskas told Cowbell Kingdom. “I actually used my off-hand a little bit to push the ball because I wasn’t strong enough. Then I really just worked with my dad. He was my coach growing up, and he taught me the form that I have right now.”

The rest was history. He developed into a four-star recruit at St. Mark’s High School, and enrolled at the University of Michigan in 2012. In two years as a Wolverine, Stauskas finished second all-time in school history in free throw percentage (83.16) and fifth   and 3-point percentage (44.1). The 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year regularly showed high IQ and unselfishness, but fans’ attention always reverted to the stroke.

The Sacramento Kings, thirsty for floor spreaders and playmakers, had their eyes set on Stauskas since he became draft-eligible. The Kings scooped him up with the eighth pick in July, bypassing other bombers like Doug McDermott and Rodney Hood.

The investment is immediately paying dividends, if preseason performance means anything. Through five games, Stauskas is 17-of-37 from the floor (45.9 percent) and 7-of-19 from deep (36.8 percent).

The two-guard prides himself with the 3-ball, but he acknowledges the necessity for shots within the arc as well.

“A lot of times, the pull up game, you’re either guarded or you’re shooting running fast into it, so it’s not an easy shot,” Stauskas added.  “But it’s definitely something that’s been lost a little bit in this game because it is just a tough shot.  I think a lot of guys now, it’s either a 3-pointer or a lay-up or dunk at the rim. If you have a floater or the midrange game it can really open things up for you.”

Stauskas is also 7-for-7 at the charity stripe, a feat he attributes beyond his flawless mechanics. “You just have to keep a steady, focused mind at the free throw line,” the former Wolverine said.  “You can’t let your mind wander, you can’t think about what the crowd is doing. You just have to stay focused.”

Stauskas dons the No. 10 worn formerly by sharpshooter Mike Bibby. While it’s a grand legacy to live up to, the 21-year-old must first avoid the fate of the last highly touted Kings gunner, Jimmer Fredette.  To do that, he must round out skills besides shooting and prove that he can defend at the NBA level.

But if Stauskas’ NBA career flames out, at least he’ll have 46 straight 3’s to remember.

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