The NBA Draft came and went on Thursday evening and Sacramento Kings fans are still desperately trying to recover from the selection of Nik Stauskas.
It’s not that the fans don’t like the pick. Stauskas may end up being the best possible player for the Kings. The issue is that no one saw that pick coming. There were eight names that were thought to be locks for the top eight, and Stauskas wasn’t one of them.
When the selection was made, even the media room went silent. The unexpected had happened, and no one knew what to make of selection.
There is a blueprint for this process; Kings fans know it well. The four stages of draft recovery are now upon us.
Stage One: Shock
The fan reaction to the drafting of Nik Stauskas was not good. It wasn’t just “who?” or “what just happened?” There were at least a few angry people out there, and they turned to Twitter, as if that can remedy anything.
Kings fans are used to shock. It was an earmark of a good Geoff Petrie draft.
The Kings draft-day festivities were abuzz in 1996. With the 13th overall pick, the Charlotte Hornets had just selected Kobe Bryant, who would later be dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers for a young center named Vlade Divac. Syracuse’s John Wallace was on the board when the Kings’ selection (No. 14) went to the podium. Fans were ready to erupt, and then it happened…
With the 14th selection in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Predrag Stojakovic…
Silence. Maybe more than silence. Maybe a few tears and even a few explicit words were murmured through the crowd.
A similar situation happened in 2009. Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio slid down the board and was available when the Kings went to make their selection with the fourth overall pick. Sacramento needed a point guard and Rubio had all the makings of Jason Williams 2.0.
When Tyreke Evans was selected, the entire city froze for a moment. Time stood still; then, uproar.
Stage Two: Anger
“Jimmer Fredette 3.0.” That is my favorite tweet from Thursday night.
Kings fans were confused. Partially because they didn’t expect Stauskas and partially because Sacramento had spent the seventh overall selection the year before on Ben McLemore, who plays the same position.
Anger turned to chaos. What does this pick mean for 21-year-old McLemore? Why didn’t the Kings trade the pick? What about a shot-blocking power forward? Why are there so many S’s in Stauskas?
I’m sure there were at least a few people who drank themselves to sleep on Thursday night and are just now realizing what the Kings have done.
Stage Three: Rationalization
By Friday morning, the sentiment had already begun to change. In the official Cowbell Kingdom poll, 42 percent of our readers gave the Kings a “B” and another 25 percent rated the selection as an “A.” Yes, 16 percent of the Kingdom handed Pete D’Alessandro and his team a grade of “D” or below, but the majority of fans were ready to jump on board.
The Kings ranked 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting last season, and they added the best shooter in the draft. They finished 30th in assists, and Stauskas adds another playmaker from the shooting guard position. McLemore might be two or three years away from being a reliable starter and Stauskas looks like he is ready today.
There is no question that the weakest link on the Kings last season was the shooting guard spot and this pick may improve the position. Call it rationalizing, but the Kings improved; the question is: by how much?
Lastly, Stojakovic worked out and so did Evans, while Wallace was a horrible pro and Rubio spent two years in Europe and has yet to shoot better than 38.1 percent from the field in a season. In fact, the picks that were celebrated, like Thomas Robinson in 2012 and even McLemore last season, have not worked out as planned. McLemore has time to improve, but he certainly wasn’t NBA ready last season.
Stage four: Acceptance
Sacramento has some of the best fans in the NBA. They met Stauskas at the airport, and they will love his feisty spirit. There were bigger names in this draft, but if Stauskas can translate his college game to the pro level, the Kings got a steal.
Stauskas is a winner, a good kid and just in case you still haven’t bought in, he posted this message to Kings fans after his flight landed on Friday night.
For those of you who know me understand that being drafted was something that I have been chasing my entire life. Hearing my name called yesterday was a special moment for me and my family because the journey and the everyday struggle of getting here gives you a sense of accomplishment. However, I want people to know (Kings fans in particular) that I am not satisfied with where I am in my career at this point. It’s frustrating being a perfectionist because you’re striving for something that you can’t reach, but I feel like my attitude and genuine love for the game will continue to help me reach my goals in the NBA. Being drafted to Sacramento has now given me an opportunity to prove myself all over again and essentially start from scratch. I want Kings fans to know that I’m a person that will never stop working because I’ll never be completely satisfied with my body of work. Let the grind resume. Let’s do this Sacramento!