Michigan's Nik Stauskas shined in John Beilein's heavy pick and roll attack. Could he be the right guy for the Phoenix Suns?
This was a frequent sequence seen on Detroit News Michigan basketball beat writer's Rod Beard's twitter feed.
No he wasn't talking about copying and pasting. In this case, CTRL+V was a reference to Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas' smooth stroke from 3-point range. Every time the sweet shooting guard knocked down a 3-pointer, which happened 172 times in two seasons, CTRL+V would show up on the timeline.
To categorize the soon to be 21-year-old Canadian as only a long-range shooter unfairly characterizes his skill set. Stauskas showed extreme growth under Michigan coach John Beilein from his freshman to his sophomore year in expanding his offensive game.
According to statsheet.com, Stauskas' possession percentage went from 16.1 in year one to 23.1 in year two. Typically an increase like that would lead to decreased efficiency, but his true shooting percentage actually jumped to 64.1 percent from 63.3 percent.
Without Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway around Beilein handed the keys of the Wolverines' extremely potent offense to Stauskas and Caris LeVert, who, despite being wings, took on the majority of the pick and roll duties initiating the offense.
With losing two NBA players, one being drafted ninth and the other 24th, along with having a freshman point guard, Michigan's offense ranked first in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive rating stat at 124.1. That bested Michigan's top-ranked O from the year before of 120.3 (pssssst that team played in the National Championship Game).
While this is simplifying the situation quite a bit, a good amount of credit falls to the above-mentioned growth as a player by Stauskas.
His high basketball IQ and well-developed skills allowed him to operate in various roles. Out of the PnR Stauskas was a threat to pull up off the dribble or attack the rim and attract the defense while finding a big man diving to the basket.
His ability to shoot with a high efficiency pulling up and skillful handle opens up the rest of his offensive game. Stauskas can attack left and right plus finish with both hands at the rim. He even sneaks in the occasional dunk and doesn't shy away from big shots in high-leverage moments.
Despite showing off his capability to be extremely diversified at the college level I don't expect it to translate to the same type of success in the NBA.
In constructing a team it will be optimal to have Stauskas as your secondary ball handler instead of primary ball hander. You want to be able to take advantage of the spacing he creates as a shooter much like he did as a freshman playing off Burke. He can do this from the two and three positions, which is important in context of how the Suns play specifically.
If he's asked to handle the ball too much Stauskas will get into some trouble. Two of the games he struggled in most last year were at Indiana and the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State. In those games he was guarded by Yogi Ferrell and Gary Harris - two short, compact defenders with strong lateral movement and the ability to get into his body. He will face defenders like this in the NBA along with longer wings who have similar foot speed.
Speaking of his flaws, we haven't even touched on the defensive end yet. There isn't much positive to talk about there. His short wingspan and poor defensive instincts make him a liability on that end. Stauskas struggles keeping his man in front of him, is not attentive off the ball and is a below average rebounder. He will need to play in a strong defensive scheme to help hide him and with a guard that allows him to defend inferior offensive players.
With how much a boon he will be to a team's offense, what he brings at that end of the court will outweigh the negatives on defense. From a Suns perspective he would be a perfect fit next to Bledsoe when Dragic goes to the bench to help the offense not take such a significant dip. If he's available at 14 Stauskas is someone the Suns should strongly consider drafting.
The new fiscal year clock does not roll over until next Tuesday, July 1. Until then, the Suns are still operating under the 2013-14 salary cap rules and player contracts.
As the rumors begin to fly, feel free to double check your logic (and everyone else's) against this list of facts about the Suns right now.
Under no circumstances can the Phoenix Suns trade Eric Bledsoe this week, no matter how sweet the package you can dream up. Bledsoe is not under contract for the 2014-15 season, and only players under contract for 2014-15 can be traded at this time.
Please IGNORE any trade rumors involving Bledsoe and a draft pick.
Next Tuesday, Bledsoe will be a restricted free agent. The ONLY way the Suns can trade Bledsoe even NEXT month is to a team he wants to sign with, and only if the Suns want to trade him (they can otherwise match any offer). Bledsoe can only be traded in two ways:
Frye has decided to let his option for 2014-15 lapse, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent next month, free to sign with any team.
Since he is not under contract for 2014-15, he cannot be traded
Once the trade deadline passed, no one with an expiring contract can be traded. That includes Okafor and Tucker as well.
Even with Bledsoe, Tucker, Frye and Okafor expiring, the Suns cannot use their "cap space" until at least July 1, and only if they renounce their Bird Rights to the players.
The Suns have just under $5 million to absorb player salaries in a trade.
The problem with acquiring a big name veteran during the draft is that the Suns will have to nearly match the salaries. You can cross off obtaining Kevin Love straight up for picks. The Suns cannot absorb his salary without matching all but $5 million of it going out.
And the Suns really don't have any big tradable salaries. The only tradable salary over $3.5 million is Goran Dragic's ($7.5 million). All the others are expiring or much lower.
So if the Suns add a big name player and contract, they will have to aggregate a lot of outgoing salaries to make it work.
But there's always the chance the Suns will need to eat a contract or two to complete a trade, like they did with Malcolm Lee last year to move up one spot from 30 to 29.
Currently, the team has 15 players on the active roster. During the offseason, any NBA team can expand to 20 players on the active roster, and only need to trim down in October.
So, the Suns could conceivably add players, as long as the salaries are no more than $5 million more than is going out.
I repeat: The players in red cannot be traded this week. The players in italics are no longer on the team, so they can't be traded either.