Michigan guard Nik Stauskas is undeniably a shooter, and the Charlotte Hornets undeniably need shooters.
Still, Stauskas is quick to say he’s a lot more than a shooter.
“I think throughout this (past) season I proved I can be a lot more than that. I think people are recognizing that,” the 6-foot-6 Stauskas said after working out for the Hornets Wednesday. “I’ve been a little pigeonholed with that label, but it’s OK. I’ll keep proving people wrong.”
Stauskas radiates self-confidence. This was his first workout for an NBA team (a previous audition with the Los Angeles Lakers was postponed by a shoulder injury.) He said he was nervous at first, but Hornets coach Steve Clifford said he performed well.
“He’s an NBA player,” Clifford said. “Very good and very skilled. I think he’s more than a shooter. He can play in the pick-and-roll, and the big thing to me is he has NBA size, which is a big deal, especially (with) the (playoff) games that you’re watching now, that you’ve been watching for the last month.
“You have to have size. He has really good size.”
And a jump shot. Stauskas made 44 percent from the college 3-point line in his two seasons at Michigan.
The Hornets were bottom-third in the NBA last season in points, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and 3-point percentage. Stauskas averaged 17.5 points last season and shot 47 percent from the field and 82 percent from the foul line.
“Immediately, I can come in and stretch the floor,” Stauskas said. “I know with Kemba (Walker) here and Al Jefferson down low I could be a great guy to space the floor and knock down shots for this team.”
Stauskas was more a spot-up shooter his freshman season. Then point guard Trey Burke left the Wolverines for the NBA and Stauskas evolved into more of a playmaker and driver.
“I had a lot more responsibility handling the ball and creating for the rest of our team,” said Stauskas, who was Big 10 Player of the Year.
“When I’m in the ball screen, I’m at my best. I’m really creative, I have a high basketball IQ and I’m unselfish – I like creating plays for other guys. And I can knock down shots.
“I got to the free throw line a lot, driving and hitting.”
Stauskas drew some scrutiny at the NBA combine when his body fat was measured at 12 percent, fourth-highest among draft prospects examined. Stauskas said he’s certainly not overweight at 6-6 and 205 pounds.
“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,” 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, from Ontario, is one of at least three Canadians projected as first-round picks in the June 26 draft: Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins could be top-3 and Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis figures to go in the second half of the first round. Another Canadian, Anthony Bennett, was the No. 1 overall pick a year ago with Cleveland.
Stauskas does his research; he showed up Wednesday in Hornets-themed teal sneakers. And he’s confident he’ll be selected in the lottery portion of the draft. He intends to work out for only four teams: The Boston Celtics with the sixth pick, the Lakers with the seventh, the Hornets at No. 9 and the Phoenix Suns at No. 14.
None of them were obligated to be there, but it’s become the norm since Clifford became coach a year ago. He has let the players know that’s his expectation.
“This is the way it has always been in the places I have been in. I don’t think it’s common throughout the league,” Clifford said.
“To really get better, they should be here with us. They should be here because our coaches know them better; they know what they should be working on.”
Some players instead leave town and hire personal trainers or outside coaches to tutor them in the summer. Clifford doesn’t see that as matching what the staff provides.
“A lot of guys will give them good workouts, but (they’re) not going to be able to say to any of these guys all the time, ‘You’ve got to go a little harder. You need to do this, you need to do that.’
“I also think they need to take advantage of (strength and conditioning coach) Matt Friia, who is excellent. They can’t do that unless they’re here in Charlotte. They know that that’s how I feel. I think it’s great they’re here and I also think it’s where they should be.”