The RTC All-Big Ten Team: Nik StauskasPosted by Brendan Brody on March 13th, 2014
We gave reached the end of our week long unveiling of our RTC All-Big Ten team. The head of our seven-man squad is none other than the player also selected as Player of the Year by both the coaches and the media. Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas takes home top honors here as well. Stauskas went from a complementary shooter, to the main option on a team that many thought would struggle when preseason All-American Mitch McGary was lost for the season due to injury.
Why Nik Stauskas is the best player in the Big Ten: The simple answer would be because he’s the best player on the team that won the regular season championship, but it goes much deeper than that. In his freshman year, he averaged 11.0 points and 1.3 assists per game on 44.0% three-point shooting. These are very good numbers for a freshman on a team that went to the National Championship game, but Stauskas masterfully handled the transition from a complementary role to a primary one. He went from a usage rate of 16.2% to 23.5%, and his offensive rating went up from 122.8 to 126.0. He had the ball in his hands on a much more frequent basis with the defense focusing on him and still was more efficient. He proved that he can still shoot the ball with the best of them, but added a nice mid-range game, showcased an ability to get to the rim, and to set up his teammates. He led the Wolverines with 3.4 assists per game while also leading them in scoring at 17.4 points per game.
Signature Moment: My personal favorite individual play from his 2013-14 catalog would probably be this dunk against Florida State. It showed early in the season that the Big Ten had a different player on its hands than the one from the previous season. He put himself on the map in terms of being a Player of the Year candidate during a three-game stretch in January when the Wolverines beat Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State all in a row. In these three he averaged 22.7 points and 4 assists per game while going 12-for-24 from deep. The award was his to lose from that point forward.
Going Forward: Michigan is once again positioned to make another deep March run. They will probably be a 2 or 3 seed, and could very well be playing in the Final Four once again. Stauskas has a chance to use this as a springboard to the lottery if he plays exceptionally well. Prior to the season it was widely thought that he would be a J.J. Redick/Jimmer Fredette type that stays in school for four years, obliterating scoring records along the way. But his length (6’6″) combined with the diversity he showed this season in proving that he’s more than just a shooter could make him an early-entry candidate. NBADraft.net has him being the sixth pick in the second round while DraftExpress has him going just outside the lottery. March will determine much of what happens with the future of our Player of the Year.