Kings coach says Nik Stauskas and Ben McLemore can play together
The Kings can’t stop drafting shooting guards in the lottery.
In 2013, they took Ben McLemore at No. 7. A year later, they added Nik Stauskas at No. 8.
In the lottery era, I count just just nine other teams that drafted players of the same position with top-eight picks in back-to-back years (omitting cases where players regularly handled multiple positions):
- Chicago Bulls in 2002 and 2003 – Jay Williams and Kirk Hinrich
- Cleveland Cavaliers in 2000 and 2001 – Chris Mihm and DeSagana Diop
- Vancouver Grizzlies in 1997 and 1998 – Antonio Daniels and Mike Bibby
- Denver Nuggets in 1997 and 1998 – Tony Battie and Raef LaFrentz
- Milwaukee Bucks in 1995 and 1996 – Shawn Respert and Ray Allen
- Philadelphia 76ers in 1993 and 1994 – Shawn Bradley and Sharone Wright
- Dallas Mavericks in 1992 and 1993 – Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn
- Minnesota Timberwolves in 1990 and 1991 – Felton Spencer and Luc Longley
- Phoenix Suns in 1987 and 1988 Armen Gilliam and Tim Perry
Only one pair remained teammates even three full seasons – Jackson and Mashburn, whom the Mavericks both traded the following year. In their three-plus seasons together in Dallas, the team went 13-69, 36-46, 26-56 and 24-58.
On average, the listed players lasted together less than a year a half.
But not only do the Kings believe there’s room for both Stauskas and McLemore on the roster, they think there’s room for both on the court.
Sacramento coach Michael Malone, via Steven Wilson of Kings.com:
“What I’ve seen is that Ben and Nik can play together without any problems,” stated Head Coach Micahel Malone during the team’s mini-camp practices in Las Vegas this summer. “They both have a pretty good understanding of the game and they play well off of each other. When you have two guys who have the potential to shoot as well as they do, it’s going to pose problems for other teams.”
Stauskas showed he can be the lead ball-handler, run the pick-and-roll and distribute – in college. I’m not sure he’s ready to handle that role in the NBA.
A three-guard lineup would also allow Rudy Gay, who has found success in Sacramento as a small-ball four, to stay at power forward. But that grouping, even with DeMarcus Cousins at center, would be pretty small.
Really, I find it tough to see Stauskas and McLemore sharing many minutes.
However, I don’t think taking back-to-back shooting guards in itself was a mistake for the Kings. This just increases their chances of finding one who can start there long term. Even though there’s plenty of time to get on track, McLemore’s disappointing rookie year didn’t warrant Sacramento passing on the player it considered best available.
The draft is a big enough crapshoot that putting all your eggs in one basket is usually foolish. Maybe Stauskas or McLemore will pan out – but just don’t count on it happening harmoniously.