Friday is the last day of preseason for the Philadelphia 76ers, and while most of the roster spots have surely been locked up in lieu of the regular season home opener next Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, there is one player who may have one last feint shot at making the roster. Nik Stauskas.
Stauskas took a different approach this summer to “improve” his game; he even decided to forgo playing for the Canadian Basketball team in the Olympics to focus on training for the upcoming preseason. He has been openly aware of his status (or lack thereof) career-wise in the NBA and knows that in his third year after being drafted 8th overall in the 2014 draft, that he needs to produce, and so far this preseason… he hasn’t shown any signs of improvement or production.
Yes, he strained his left hamstring in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the next three games, but not only did he struggle well before that injury in the first game, since his return (playing against the Wizards last Thursday and the Pistons over the weekend) he has continued to struggle, and that’s putting it lightly. In 50 minutes of play this season he has only made 1 field goal… that’s not a typo. He has made ONE field goal, and to make matters worse he has continued to be slow on the defensive end of the court and he hasn’t made a single three-pointer, even when most of his three point shots have been relatively open. That is especially bad for someone who was drafted with the reputation as a “knock-down” shooter. If anything his play last season and thus far in the preseason has somehow “knocked” fans out cold just watching.
With all the Joel Embiid hype surrounding the preseason, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a young and very raw 76er team attempt to play basketball, but Stauskas, relative to his draft status was supposed to shine above most of his contemporaries. Instead, he has continued to play at the same level of last season and at some points has been arguably a bit worse, Brett Brown (partly because of the Jerryd Bayless injury) even tinkered with the lineup against the Pistons’ on Saturday trying to play him at point guard… how do you think that went?
Friday may be the last time we see Stauskus in a Sixers’ uniform unless he has a big performance, but even if that were to happen, who would he leap frog to take a roster spot? Even the 24th pick from this past NBA draft, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has at least shown some flashes in the preseason, to the point where even Brett Brown said TLC could possibly play in the regular season this year, and this was someone who was expected to be stashed in the D-league to develop.
The trade to bring Stauskus from the Sacramento Kings to Philly was merely gravy on top of a trade that was considered at the time to be highway robbery, so there really isn't any negative consequences if Sauce Castillo doesn’t make the 15 man roster. However, If there was a time for Stauskus to show any signs of the player he was expected to be (or just signs of an actual player) there would be no better time to make a lasting impression than in South Beach this Friday at 7:30 eastern time.