Nik Stauskas, a 3-point specialist whose basketball career has taken him from being the 8th pick in the 2014 draft to seven NBA cities and abroad, is reportedly signing a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics. The second season is non-guaranteed in 2022-2023.
While it’s pretty unlikely Stauskas can sustain his scoring average of 50 points per game from this past week in the G-League, he is someone who’s shown the ability to catch fire and light it up from downtown.
Ime Udoka typically likes to play the eight guys he trusts the most, but with Jaylen Brown and Aaron Nesmith out, Stauskas has at least a shot to earn some playing time in the short run. Here’s a closer look at how he might fit in with the Celtics:
He’s streaky, but he can flat out shoot it
Don’t expect Stauskas to come in and be a consistent double-digit scoring guy off the bench. He’s never averaged in double figures in his career – partially due to lack of opportunity – and is a streaky player by nature.
Do, however, expect him to provide instant energy whenever he gets some run, help Boston space the floor even more, and occasionally get hot from distance. He’s averaging more 3-point field goals per game than 2-point field goals over the course of his NBA career, and his 35.4 percent clip from downtown is solid considering teams know that’s what he’ll be doing more often than not.
Stauskas shot 40.4 percent from 3 in 41 games with the Nets in 2017-18 and 42.9 percent in 24 games with the Cavaliers in 2018-19. He appeared in two games with the Heat earlier this season and shot 50 percent from 3 in a very small sample size.
The Celtics are currently 12th in 3-pointers attempted but just 22nd in 3-point percentage (34.5), and Stauskas has the opportunity to help fill a void.
He meshes well with the core
Stauskas should fit in well with the pieces around him. Marcus Smart and Derrick White will get him the ball in his spots, Jayson Tatum and Brown (when healthy) will make his life a whole lot easier. Robert Williams, Al Horford and Daniel Theis will screen away from the ball to help him get open.
Teams won’t be able to over-help on Tatum and Brown as much, because if they do, Stauskas will make them pay.
Time will tell how many minutes Stauskas gets, and he may only be an end-of-the-bench guy. He does, however, have a chance to see some playing time – particularly in the short term, with the injuries to fellow wings Brown and Nesmith.
At 28, Stauskas has been around and knows better than most how to fit in with a new team and mesh with what’s already there.
Don’t get too excited, though
It all sounds rosy in theory, but Stauskas has his limitations. He’s a below-average on-ball defender, can be a bit predictable and is much more of a spot-up shooter than an off-the-dribble guy.
The Celtics have been arguably the best defensive team in the NBA of late, and it will be intriguing to see whether Stauskas sets them back in that regard at all. He should be fine, with such elite defenders around him, but it’s likely teams will attack him and try to exploit mismatches.
With a hypothetical Smart-White-Stauskas-Tatum-Williams lineup, though, his teammates should be able to pick up any slack. Overall, it’s a solid pickup for the Celtics, as they found a player who has a chance to provide instant offense and make teams pick their poison even more.
It’s certainly possible he won’t see much action, but there’s also a chance he’ll be exactly what they need.