Free Association, Canadian ..."/> Free Association, Canadian ..."/>

Nik Stauskas, Open To A Manu Ginobili Type Role


In a recent interview and discussion with Free Association, Canadian (and Philadelphia 76er) Nik Stauskas discussed plenty of things, including his role with the Sacramento Kings and Team Canada this summer, and even had to face off against one of the show’s hosts in a Friends trivia competition.

More from The Sixer Sense

What stood out from the rest, at least in the context of the Sixers, was Stauskas talking about what Brett Brown, Sixers head coach expected of him this upcoming season in his debut year with the team, and beyond. Stauskas said things have been mainly generic as far as what Brown wants with Stauskas on the Sixer, but also discussed that the coach has constantly brought up the name of one player that he thinks Nik can model his style of play after: Manu Ginobili.

"He coached with the Spurs, and he always to me mentions Manu Ginobili as someone that he wants to almost guide and help me play like. And looking at a guy like Manu, it makes sense because he’s a guy that as a young player was more athletic than people thought, he could really shoot the ball, he was crafty, he could pass the ball."

This is a strange comparison to grasp, for many. Manu has averaged 14.3 points and 4.0 assists over the course of his career, while Stauskas was only able to put up 4.4 points and 0.9 assists per game last season.

The thought about this is that it’s incredibly unrealistic to compare these two players. In no way do they seem alike, and I could see fans uprising about this comparison much like plenty did when I compared Tony Wroten to Stephen Curry.

How does this differ, though? Well, in this instance it’s a coach talking to a player. A coach’s job is to encourage. It’s not always their job to be a realist with the players. If Brown was 100% realistic all of the time, he would probably be the most discouraging coach in the NBA. Instead, here, he’s pushing Stauskas to be a better player, and showing him what his potential is as a guard.

Still, it made me curious, how does Stauskas compare to Ginobili? Are they, at all similar?

At first glance, I didn’t see many similarities between them, especially statistically. Stauskas wasn’t even close to Ginobili stastically last season, and probably won’t be this year. But that’s not to say that he can’t get to that point, especially as the years progress.

Stauskas spoke on the podcast to the idea that he was pigeon holed in Sacramento, expected to be a shooter when it wasn’t natural. Of course, a lack of playing time contributed to his low stats, too.

Ginobili has a very distinct style of play, and I believe that is what Brown is referring to when he mentions to Stauskas that he envisions him taking on a Ginobili-like role. Manu was known for doing one of two things on offense: getting into the hoop and scoring from close range, and taking long range shots. His handles weren’t fantastic, but his quick foot movements and decent ball handling is good enough for him to weave in and out of defenders in the key, finding himself near the hoop for easy layups on lots of occasions.

Stauskas is not generally accepted as this type of player, but I believe it’s time for this to be the type of play we’re used to seeing. Expecting him to always be a shooter is what held him back a lot last year, as he alluded to in the podcast.

While he is often considered a shooter, his best plays have been close to the hoop, explosive dunks and layups. He can get himself there with his ball handling, or sometimes take a backdoor cut route that leaves him open.

Maybe coach Brown isn’t crazy, after all. Maybe this young player we have in Stauskas can quickly evolve into a Manu-type styled player, with the right enviornment. What is the right environment? According to Stauskas, one that doesn’t force him to expand the court with his perimeter shooting. While the Sixers need players to shoot, I don’t think Stauskas will be pressured with having to do this.

ALSO ON THE SIXER SENSE: Flat Top Podcast Episode 2

Driving to the hoop is something Stauskas is good at, and if he’s given an offense where he can do this, but also step back for the occasional three pointer–and there’s good reason for him to do that, he shot near 45% from beyond the arc in his final year as a Michigan Wolverine–he could be a new version of Manu.

These casual podcast interviews are fantastic, because it really gives fans an insight into what players are thinking. Stauskas is clearly not pleased with how his skills were used in Sacramento, and I think we should be expecting higher numbers from him this season due to an impending role change for him.

Would he have exposed how he felt about his role to the media in Sacramento? Probably not, due to the fear that the media will twist locker room quotes. This podcast, however, provided a nice forum for Stauskas to casually vent about what went wrong for him in his rookie year, and what is going to be different in Philadelphia.

Go ahead Stauskas, embrace that Manu Ginobili role.

Next: Are The 76ers The Brightest Spot In Philly Sports?

More from The Sixer Sense