The Philadelphia 76ers just won their second game of the season in 11 tries, and most of the headlines have been surrounding rookie center, Joel Embiid. But, you don’t have to look far to find another storyline; is Nik Stauskas for real?
It’s 11 games into the season, and out of every shooting guard in the NBA who has played at least 10 games and 20 minutes per contest, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Nik Stauskas has the league’s highest shooting percentage. This is not a drill. “Sauce Castillo” is shooting 51.5 percent from the field, which has resulted in 8.9 points per game in 23.9 minutes.
So, this begs me to ask the question; is it time to start taking the former Michigan Wolverine seriously?
It feels like it was just yesterday that Stauskas was missing uncontested lay-ups, but now, he’s converting 64.7 percent of his 2-point field goal attempts. It was always a concern, whether or not Stauskas was capable of being an impactful NBA player, without converting a high efficiency rate from the 3-point line. So far, his percentage from deep is 38.2 percent, which isn’t otherworldly, but it’s an improvement from his past two seasons, for which he hovered around 32 percent.
After 11 games, it seems like the same dude that almost didn’t make the opening-day roster, may be the 76ers’ most improved player.
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Believe it or not, Stauskas has been in a position, similar to his first two years in the NBA, before. In his new podcast on the “Sixers Podcast Network,” titled “Sauce & Co.,” the Canadian-born shooting guard explained how he almost quit basketball all together.
“I left my dorm and went out to the woods, where there was no one there, and I called my parents and I was crying,” Stauskas told sixers.com beat writer, Brian Seltzer, who you can follow on Twitter @BrianSeltzer. “I was like, ‘that’s it, I’m done.’ And, like, I’m coming home. ‘This isn’t for me. I’m not doing it. I’ll just be a regular guy. I’ll work a nine-to-five. It is what it is. I’m not going to do this basketball thing.'”
Stauskas went on to explain to Seltzer how his parents refused to let him quit, because they saw potential in the Mississauga product.
There’s plausible reason to believe that in his first two seasons in the Association, Stauskas may have just been in his own head. It’s also fair to remain skeptical. It could very well just be a spicy, hot start for the man they call “Sauce Castillo.” But, what if it isn’t? What if he found that swagger and confidence which he exhibited while playing in the NCAA?
With the incoming 2017 draft class filled with star guards, along with the Sixers’ need to add an impactful presence at the guard positions, the time is now for Nik Stauskas to prove that he belongs. So far, he is doing an excellent job.