Confident Nik Stauskas begins workouts before NBA Draft

Allison Farrand/Daily
Buy this photo

By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Editor
Published June 11, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you weren’t aware yet, Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter.

Now, he wants you to know that beyond being able to score from anywhere, he’s also someone who has a “high IQ.”

“I’m good at reading the floor and making the right plays,” he said. “I feel like I don’t force the action too much, and I’m patient. I wait for things to happen, and when I see the opportunity I take it.

“I think I can do a lot more than shoot the ball. But I think, immediately coming in, I can be a guy that can really stretch the floor.”

But the Charlotte Hornets don’t need a playmaker in the upcoming NBA Draft. They need someone like Stauskas, who can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court and draw defenders away from big man Al Jefferson and guard Kemba Walker.

The former Michigan guard, who has been training in Chicago since the NBA Combine, worked out in Charlotte on Wednesday for his first of four pre-draft tryouts. He was originally set to begin workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers last week, but a reported shoulder injury kept him out.

He appeared to be fine Wednesday, though, as he performed a 30-plus minute workout devoted primarily to shooting.

“There were a little bit of nerves out there,” Stauskas said, “but once you get going the nerves kind of go away. You just get back to doing what you do.”

Added Hornets coach Steve Clifford: “He’s very skilled. I think he’s more than a shooter, though. He can play in the pick and roll, but the big thing to me is that he has NBA size, which is a big deal. You have to have size, and he has really good size for his position.”

The Big Ten Player of the Year is also slated to work out with the Boston Celtics, Lakers and Phoenix Suns. The Hornets have the No. 9 pick in the draft, while the Lakers and Celtics hold the sixth and seventh spots, respectively. Only Phoenix picks outside the top 10 at No. 14, though it could use its two other first-round picks to move up.

ESPN’s Chad Ford predicts Stauskas will fall to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 13, while has him going to Charlotte in its latest mock draft.

Stauskas didn’t know where he’d be on draft night, but added Wednesday he hoped to be in New York as one of the selections to walk on stage.

An All-American last season, Stauskas finished with 17.5 points and 3.3 assists per game, but stands out for his 47 percent shooting from the field, 44.2 percent from behind the arc.

“I’m a guy that can create for others,” Stauskas said. “People started to see it this year. I got to the free-throw line a lot, I was driving and kicking to open threes or dunks. I’m an unselfish player, and I’ll take the open shot when it’s there, but I’ve enjoyed setting my teammates up.”

But his body fat could be an issue for some teams, which see 12 percent as too high for their liking.

“I don’t know if it’s a lack of lean muscle or what. I don’t think I’m fat, I think I’m skinny,” the 6-foot-6, 205-pound Stauskas said. “Maybe it’s baby fat, but in these workouts teams are going to see the way I move. I’ll surprise them with my athleticism.”

Stauskas should do well with most offenses in the NBA, though, which utilize the pick-and-roll and high ball screens. He’ll benefit from his former system under Michigan coach John Beilein, who had flex plays that put emphasis on the pick-and-roll.

Clifford didn’t elaborate on what drills he put Stauskas through, but Charlotte has tested a prospect’s hand size in the past to evaluate how well an athlete can pick up a ball with one hand.

“The guys who play for the best coaches are the ones that have the advantage,” Clifford said. “It’s those who play in structured programs where they have demands put on them, have been forced to work hard every day and play in big games.”

NOTES: Former Michigan forward Jordan Morgan worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. Pat Donnelly, Morgan’s high-school coach at U-D Jesuit, followed up with a tweet that noted Morgan is working out with three teams before the draft. From Morgan’s Twitter, it appears those two additional teams are the Timberwolves, which he worked out for on Wednesday, and the Chicago Bulls. At the end of the season, Morgan noted that he wouldn’t rule out a basketball future. ... Former forward Glenn Robinson III worked out with the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. He's projected to go anywhere from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round. Said Stauskas of Robinson: "He's a freak athlete, and I've never seen anyone like him.” ... Several mock drafts have also slotted Mitch McGary in similar spots near Robinson. McGary is still recovering from January back surgery.