The last potential Canadian prospect for the Raptors, at least for the first round, is Michigan sharpshooter, Nik Stauskas. Staustas was a starter as a freshman for Michigan when they won almost won the NCAA Championship last year, but he really made a name for himself this past season. After three of Michigan’s starters (and their top two scorers) declared for the NBA draft after their Championship (almost) win, there was a void that needed to be filled. And Stauskas filled it, exceeding just about all expectations.

While he played well in his freshman season, averaging 11 points a game while shooting 44% from beyond the arc, Stauskas gained 16 pounds of muscle over the summer and returned as the main focus of Michigan’s offense. This season, with far more responsibility, Stauskas’ three point shooting percentage stayed the same but his scoring went from 11 to 17 and his assists per game jumped by two. He remained a dangerous but efficient scorer and added dimensions to his game he didn’t seem to have as a freshman.

While Stauskas isn’t unathletic, he’s not going to blow anyone away with his hops and his ability to play defense had been questioned. This season, we saw a much more varied game, with Stauskas driving to the hoop far more and getting to line  at an almost elite rate. He also showed off his high basketball IQ and ability to make his teammates better, leading Michigan to a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

A lot of people first encountered Stauskas the way a lot of people seem to be discovered nowadays, through YouTube. As a junior in high school, Stauskas started making videos and one of him hitting 123 out of 141 three point attempts in his rather luxurious backyard court.

He followed that up with other videos, including hitting 70 out of 76 in five minutes in the rain.

While Stauskas had a fantastic sophomore season, becoming and All American (as a Canadian, of course) and was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year, he doesn’t have the star potential that Wiggins and even Ennis do. What he does well, though, teams covet, especially in today’s NBA. While he doesn’t have elite playing ability, he does have the potential to be an elite shooter at the NBA level, and there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t want someone like that.

And although Stauskas played the small forward position at Michigan, he’s just 6’5 and unlikely to be able to play anything other than shooting guard in the NBA.

Right now, Stauskas is projected to go anywhere from 12 to 20 in the draft. With the Raptors drafting 20th, they have an outside chance of being able to draft him outright and a good chance of being able to trade up for him, should they wish to.

The Raptors SEEM to be pretty secure at the shooting guard position. While DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross started most of the season together, both are more suited to playing the shooting guard position, so on the surface there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of room for Stauskas. But the bench behind them was pretty weak, with Greivis Vasquez and Kyle Lowry playing a lot of time together, and John Salmons and sometimes Landry Fields also filling in. Playing two point guards together makes for an undersized backcourt and defense challenges, John Salmons was wildly inconsistent and only got worse as the season went on (basically repeating what he does every time he is traded to a new team), and Landry Fields’ shot looks like it’s deserted him forever.

The Raptors were actually a top ten three point shooting team, despite DeRozan continuing to struggle from that distance, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use another shooter, especially if it means being able to part with Salmons. The Raptors rely on being able to spread the floor, and while the Raptors are a very good three point shooting team, they didn’t have anyone in the top 25 in percentage (both Patrick Patterson and Steve Novak would have qualified had they taken more shots, but it’s likely their percentage would have dropped with more output). Plus, the Raptors struggled to score from three in the playoffs, when there is more pressure on the offense.

While Stauskas’ shooting is definitely his best selling point, his high basketball IQ should also be something that could attract the Raptors to him. Great teams tend to have high IQ guys and the Raptors aren’t flush with them right now. Stauskas might be exactly what the Raptors need.

To send you off, here are some highlights with possibly the worst musical choice for a highlight reel ever.

[edit] It was late when I wrote this article, and for some reason forgot that Michigan actually DIDN’T win the NCAA Championship last year.  I guess it was a moral victory for them.

  • Bryan Colangelo

    I completely disagree.

    That is the worst choice of music. For ANYTHING.

  • Statement

    Lol,

    That’s the Jays anthem for this year. HEEEYYY BROTHER…it’s a terrible song.

  • Ds

    Quick release, unlimited range, accurate shot. What’s not to like.

  • c_bcm

    ummm. I don’t think Michigan won the NCAA championship…and they were a 2 seed.

  • jjdynomite

    “After three of Michigan’s starters (and their top two scorers) declared
    for the NBA draft after their Championship win, there was a void that
    needed to be filled.”

    Replace “win” with “run” and you won’t look so moronic. But hey, this is TimW writing, so that explains a lot.

    • ac1011990

      Jeez your a bully sometimes lol.

  • sleepz

    While I do agree that he projects as a 2 in the pro’s (will have trouble guarding the position though), wasn’t he playing the 1/2 at Michigan last year?

    The games I saw Michigan play this year I could have swore they had him running the point and playing the 2.

    • j bean

      I like him at the point. Smart, height, handles, passer, creates space for his shot that he can drain from anywhere.

  • Matteemo

    Not very likely Stauskas will still be an option by the time we pick, and I don’t think we covet him enough to warrant trading up to get him. A lot of draft boards have us choosing Jerami Grant in the first round and I like that choice. Not a flawless player, but no one is at 20th. With the first of our 2nd rd picks I’d like to see us take a chance Patric Young. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him check this video out and look him up on YouTube. http://www.draftexpress.com/article/Top-NBA-Prospects-in-the-SEC-Part-2–Patric-Young-Video-4354/

  • dunkmycat7

    At 20 the Raps should probably trade their pick as part of a package for a KILLER PF or a defensive 3.
    When I watched this guy play wasn’t he mostly a 1/2 not a 3 ? He seemed to have the ball in his hands alot ! -what did I miss ?
    Can he be a poor mans BIRD ? Same kinda skillset, smarts, same work ethic,same lack of athleticism ?
    My new movie- White Men Still Can’t Jump. :)
    Good luck to this kid whatever happens to him, have heard him a few times on 590 – SO smart SO grounded , he SO totally gets it.

  • EaseUpOnCasey

    On thing the report left out is that Stauskas has great handles. His longevity in the NBA for me depends on If he can create space off the dribble as he did in the college game.

    As a Canadian hoops fan i hope the Raps don’t draft him as I don’t see enough floor time for his game to develop. But he would fit into the Horns system with his ability to come off screens and shoot both off the dribble and spot-up jumpers.

    The one Canadian who we can get who I would like to see an article on is Khem Birch. He reminds me of Keon Clarke with his athleticism and shot blocking ability. Could be a useful small-ball center. Was an All-American in high school but has had issues at Pitt and never fully developed at UNLV. He’s a project but as a cheap 12th man he has a ton of potential as an elite NBA defender.

  • smh

    Would you take him if he dropped to 20? Wouldn’t he fill a need as a shooter off the bench making Novak expendable? How are his handles? His defense? Could he potentially become replace Fields/Salmons/De Colo?

  • RapsFanatic

    We already have Ross and Novak, Raptors should draft a defensive 3 or a big man. Stauskas is good but if we draft him will he even get minutes on a Raptors squad trying to make the playoffs again? He’ll probably be gone by 20 anyways.

  • Gvid

    Also he has Lithuanian blood so you cant go wrong with him.

  • Thomas

    It’s too bad Cauley-Stein is going back to school. He’d be great off the bench for this team