DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings pulled a stunner when the organization drafted Michigan guard Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick in this year’s draft.
Staukas is a 6-foot-6 two-guard with tremendous outside shooting abilities. It’s the second year in a row that the Kings went with a shooting guard, selecting Ben McLemore last season with the No. 7 selection.
After Stauskas was selected, he just wanted the Kings organization, the fans, and the city to know that’s he’s the real deal and he wants to show everyone that he is the person who should be in a Sacramento uniform.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the city and the organization and I know they have a great young core there,” Stauskas told the Sacramento media during a telephone interview after he was drafted. “I just hope Kings’ fans understand that I am excited to get there, meet them, and be a part of this organization. For those who don’t know me, I’m a highly-motivated kid and played with a chip on my shoulder my entire life. I’ve had a winning attitude my entire life and everywhere I’ve been I’ve been successful,” Stauskas stated.
Stauskas, a Canadian who played high school in Massachusetts, garnered various All-American honors as sophomore and was voted the Big 10 Player of the Year for the 2013-2014 season. He finished 13th in the NCAA shooting 44 percent beyond the three-point line.
“We talked about acquiring talent, floor spacers, passers, and guys who can handle the ball. I think we got all of those things in Nik Stauskas,” said Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro. “We are thrilled to have him here. We had did enough homework, got some pretty good intelligence, and felt pretty strongly that we would see him there at No. 8.”
Stauskas averaged 17.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game last season for the Wolverines. He also shot .47 percent from the field in 36 games as a sophomore, topping his .463 percentage in his freshman year. Stauskas won’t turn 21 until Oct. 7.
During the draft workouts, scouts for the Kings, particularly assistant general manager Mike Bratz, said all along that Stauskas and Creighton’s Doug McDermott were the “two best shooters” among the prospects. It turned out that the Kings wanted Stauskas more than McDermott. McDermott was drafted to the Denver Nuggets at No. 11, and then immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls.
More surprisingly, the Kings stacked the deck when they added a player with another they said would be their guy of the future. However, McLemore struggled during his rookie campaign. making the Stauskas’ pick a significant choice. The Kings do need more outside shooting. That’s a fact.
Drafting players that play the same position may sound like a knock on the door to one of them, though Kings head coach Mike Malone made it clear that Stauskas and McLemore can exist together on the floor. He said the Kings are trying to put themselves in a position to win and not to exclude players that could help in the W column.
“I think people who think we automatically take Nik Stauskas that we don’t appreciate or love Ben. That’s not the case,” Malone said. “Ben McLemore has had an incredible summer so far andI know he is anxious to show that in summer league in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. But both of these guys can play together. People don’t know, but (Stauskas) can play a little point guard. He has that kind of command of the basketball.”
Kentucky’s Julius Randle was picked ahead of Stauskas by the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh was chosen with the No. 9 selection by the Charlotte Hornets.
Xavier Thames, who played high school basketball at Pleasant Grove in Elk Grove, was drafted No. 59 in the second round by the Toronto Raptors. The point guard who finished his college career at San Diego State, was then traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
Overall, Andrew Wiggins from Kansas was selected with the first pick of the draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, which makes him the second Canadian in a row chosen in the No. 1 slot. Anthony Bennett, also from Canada was picked No. 1 in 2013.
Jabari Parker, as expected, was picked second in the draft by the troubled Milwaukee Bucks franchise. Parker, who played for the Simeon High School out of Chicago, left Duke after his freshman year as did forward Wiggins with Kansas.
Joel Embiid, who was expected to go No. 1 before an injury sidelined him for probably most of the upcoming season, was taken in the third slot by the underachieving Philadelphia Sixers. Embiid didn’t look excited about his new team.
Former Archbishop Mitty High School player Aaron Gordon, who left Arizona after one year, is now a member of the Orlando Magic. Gordon, an extremely athletic forward with multiple defensive and offensive skills was chosen fourth in the draft.
Dante Exum rounded out the top five picks when he was picked by the Utah Jazz. Exum, 19, is a 6-6 wing player from Australia. He was a highly touted prospect in this year’s draft. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart went to the Boston Celtics.
The Kings basketball administration, which includes D’Alessandro and Malone posted up in the — XC — Experience Center on 6th and J streets in downtown Sacramento.
XC is a luxurious suite on the fourth floor at 660 J Streets with all types of hi-tech toys and gadgets to entice fans into buying season tickets for the new downtown arena.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
3. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
4. Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
5. Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
6. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
7. Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
8. Nik Stauskas, KINGS
9. Noah Vonleh, Charlotte Hornets
10. Elfrid Payton, Philadelphia 76ers (trade to Orlando for No. 12 Dario Saric).
59. Xavier Thames (Sacramento/Elk Grove), Toronto Raptors (traded to the Brooklyn Nets).
By OBSERVER Staff Writer
Antonio R. Harvey