Flash back to June of 2014. Chip Kelly was still the toast of Philadelphia. Andrew Wiggins was almost assuredly a Sixer. Michael Carter-Williams was the next Jason Kidd. I had yet to receive my calling as Dario Saric's prophet. During the lead up to the 2014 NBA Draft, Grantland (R.I.P.) followed the Sacramento Kings throughout their pre-draft scouting process, as they crowdsourced amateur statistical models, consulted longterm scouts and listened to the whims of a software king owner who knew nothing about basketball.
When the eight pick came around in the draft, with Noah Vonleh, a leading figure on many of those models, readily available and the obvious pick, Vivek Ranadive had one question left to ask: "Stauskas?" Ignoring a trade offer of the 10th-overall pick and two second rounders from Sam Hinkie and the Sixers, as well as the judgment of the brain trust surrounding him, Vivek selected Nik Stauskas, the sweet-shooting guard and reigning Big 10 Player of the Year from Michigan. Vivek and the Kings brass called Stauskas immediately following the pick and greeted him with a rousing chant of "Nik Rocks!"
A year and a half later, nothing has gone right in Nik Stauskas' life since he received that fateful call from Vivek.
From spending his rookie season in the tire fire known as the Kings organization to being in Brett Brown's doghouse for being scared to even attempt a shot, the former lottery pick's career trajectory has been going the wrong way. After dropping 17 points (including 3-for-4 from deep) in a win over the Suns on Saturday, including some nice off the dribble shooting, Sauce dropped a goose egg in Utah on Monday while also completely missing a game-winning, turnaround jumper out of the post that looked like every 18 year old's attempt to imitate Kobe Bryant while throwing a paper towel into a trash can.
But will returning to the scene of the crime, the place where his career was almost over before it barely even started, help get Stauskas back on the right path? Stauskas was a cocky little jerkoff in college, a player you'd love if he was on your team and despise if he wasn't, carrying a swagger around him on the court with his proficiency from three as well as any white guy could. He reportedly clashed with DeMarcus Cousins. Can he get some revenge on Boogie tonight?
In the disastrous Liberty Ballers preseason prediction article, I picked tonight's game as the one where the Sixers would have their largest margin of victory this season, chiefly due to Sauce Castillo having a Revenge Game. The Sixers' biggest win over the season thus far is 12 points over the Lakers, so it wouldn't be the hardest task in the world to break. Let's predict a Sixers win with a good, not great, 15-point performance of Stauskas.
- Jahlil Okafor is back tonight after missing the past two games. He'll come off the bench tonight while Jerami Grant starts at power forward, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey. #TeamNerlens
- Dario Saric nailed a game-winning jumper today for Anadolu Efes. He made a young child faint with his style and grace. #SOON
Anadolu Efes forward Dario Saric has made 46% of his contested catch and shoot jump shots this season including today's game winner.— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) December 30, 2015
- The Homie Dario also racked up an award of sorts, as he was named to the All-Europe honorable mention team today:
#Sixers 2014 first-round pick Dario Saric was named All-Europe honorable-mention by Eurobasket— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) December 30, 2015