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Land the picks, Bryan: Nik Rocks!

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Nik Stauskas is having a career renaissance, helping the Sixers win games amidst a Sacramento tailspin.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

“One....two....three....Nik Rocks!”

Vivek Ranadive’s documented phone call welcoming new first-round draftee Nik Stauskas in 2014 will live in infamy. Nearly two-and-a-half years later, “Sauce Castillo” is making Sacramento’s statement ring true, albeit starring on the Sixers. Stauskas is shredding and rocking playing backup to starting two-guard Gerald Henderson, but his production is loud and clear.

Coming off one of his strongest offensive performances in his career Saturday night (21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 5-for-6 from deep), Stauskas is making massive strides in his development. With patience from management and confidence in himself and from his peers, which he acknowledged after Saturday’s drubbing of Phoenix, Stauskas is on a tear.

Averaging 14.5 points while shooting a collective 65.9 (31-for-47) from the floor and 53.5 (15-for-28) from deep in a six-game span, Sauce is quintessentially developing into the proverbial spark plug role Hinkie anticipated he’d grow into. Sacramento’s patience waned and history is repeating itself this season.

Team: Sacramento Kings (5-9)

Tankathon.com Ranking: Ninth

Protections: In 2017, Philadelphia has the right to swap first-round picks with Sacramento if the Kings’ pick lands in the top 10 post-lottery.

Analysis/Pick Status: Apparently, Sacramento isn’t shopping center Willie Cauley-Stein, contrary to prior reports. The Kings might want to horde as many young prospects as possible, rather than offering them when their stock reaches egregiously low levels. Cauley-Stein’s lacking defensive numbers, and one-dimensional offensive skill set, stretch the truth of his billing as a two-way, energizing center.

DeMarcus Cousins was averaging 32.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists over his last three games prior to Sunday, but churned out a 7-for-22 shooting performance last night in a controversial win against Toronto. The supporting cast stepped up, a promising step for a team that relies heavily on their star center offensively. Seeing that from Dave Joerger’s group is promising, with a relatively tough stretch ahead.

Chance of Pick Conveying:

With the Kings shocking the Raptors and Philadelphia 3-2 over their last five games, Sacramento is in a precarious position. Just 1.5 games separates the two teams in the standings. If Brett Brown can get his unit to play with the same fire on both ends of the floor as he did Saturday, Philadelphia can upstage teams on certain nights.

Sacramento hosts Oklahoma City (8-6) and Houston (8-5) this week. The Sixers have a prime chance to jump the Kings. However, sustainability is relatively small in that area.

Team: Los Angeles Lakers (7-7)

Ranking: 17th

Protections: 1-3 in 2017, unprotected in 2018

Analysis/Pick Status: A Brooklyn win at home last week bookended by a perplexing 26-point loss to the Timberwolves and a close defeat at home to the Spurs, the Lakers 2016-17 season has been volatile. They took down Golden State at home and on the road against gritty Atlanta but endured double-digit losses to crippled Dallas and Minnesota.

They make for a difficult team to gauge their future, but regression might be imminent. Dropping a home contest 118-110 to Chicago and facing Oklahoma City and Golden State, twice, this week, the Lakers .500 record looks to be a phase.

They do boast five players averaging 14.1 PPG or more, but tough offensive matchups with the aforementioned organizations should put a dent in the numbers. It’s back to reality for the early portion upstarts.

Chance of Pick Conveying: Be thankful for Sam Hinkie acquiring this gem of a pick and Luke Walton making LA look more formidable than last year’s mess.