The Sacramento Kings looked to fill their shooting void by taking perhaps the best marksman available in the draft when they selected Michigan guard Nik Stauskas with the eighth overall pick.
This marks the second straight season the Kings used a top 10 pick on a shooting guard. But Stauskas is a much more accomplished shooter than last year’s seventh pick Ben McLemore, who shot 38 per cent from the field and 32 per cent from long range as a rookie.
The 6-foot-6 Stauskas became one of the nation’s most well-rounded offensive players, averaging 17.5 points last season on the way to winning Big Ten player of the year honours. Stauskas shot 44 per cent from 3-point range in two years in college and improved his ball handling and defence considerably in his second season when he took over a big share of the playmaking role with departure of star point guard Trey Burke to the NBA.
Stauskas is from Mississauga, Ontario, and followed top pick Andrew Wiggins as the second Canadian taken in the draft.
The Kings are coming off their eighth straight losing season but are looking for improvement in the second season under owner Vivek Ranadive, general manager Pete D’Alessandro and coach Mike Malone.
There was little progress in the first year under the new leadership as Sacramento went 28-54 for a second straight season as Malone was not able to turn the Kings into the defensive-minded team as he had hoped.
Sacramento is looking to build around a core led by temperamental power forward DeMarcus Cousins, small forward Rudy Gay and point guard Isaiah Thomas. Cousins signed a four-year, $62-million contract extension before last season, Gay exercised his $19.2 million option earlier this week and Thomas is expected to stay despite being a restricted free agent.
The Kings have struggled in recent years to add to the core as first-round picks Jimmer Fredette (2011) and Thomas Robinson (2012) are no longer on the team and McLemore struggled as a rookie.