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Sixers Season Preview 2016: Will Nik Stauskas Get Lost In The Sauce?

Last fall, Nik Stauskas was heralded as the type of shooter Sixers’ fans had coveted for years. Now, the former Michigan guard is fighting for a spot in Brett Brown’s rotation.

Nik Stauskas Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Where were you when you first saw the video?

You know the one I'm talking about... the one where Nik Stauskas casually knocks down 70 out of 76 three-pointers while shooting in the rain outside of his Mississauga, Canada home.

I'm pretty sure you watched it - it has nearly a million views on YouTube. And if you haven't seen it yet, you should go rectify that situation immediately. It was the most impressive piece of cinematography shot during a downpour since Oran "Juice" Jones's iconic "The Rain" video.

To be honest, I don't remember exactly where I was when I first fired it up, but I do know that it was shortly after Stauskas was acquired in the Great Hinkie Heist of 2015. Now I didn't expect Mr. Castillo to go full YouTube on us last season, but I thought it was fair to expect a starting-caliber shooting guard with better-than-average accuracy from deep.

Let's just say that Stauskas fell short of those expectations.

Long before Jemele Hill and Michael Smith came up with the concept now known as "His and Hers", the show was originally called "Numbers Never Lie." It was a program heavily focused on stats meant to combat - or complement? - the daily, statistically-thin shout-fest known as "First Take."

If Numbers Never Lie was still on the air, the show would have no trouble making the case that by nearly every measure, Nik Stauskas had a disappointing 2015-16 campaign. He shot less than 39 percent from the field, worse than 33 percent from beyond the arc, and his free throw shooting even regressed to an uninspiring 77.1 percent. Regardless of draft position, there are only so many chances afforded a wing player who shoots that poorly while being a sub-par defender to boot: Stauskas's Defensive Rating of 113 was tied for the worst mark on the Sixers last season.

His brief, two-game stint in the Las Vegas Summer League wasn't much better (35.0 FG%, 35.7 3PT%), and it's not unreasonable to think that if Stauskas doesn't show out over the next five weeks, there's a good chance that he doesn't make the final roster.

For what it's worth, Stauskas's per-36 minute averages last year were better virtually across the board when compared to his rookie season in Sacramento. But when the 76ers gave the 6-6 shooting guard ample opportunity to carve out his niche in the rotation (he started 35 games last season), he failed to stake his claim to any sort of meaningful role. Stauskas's main directive was to set up camp beyond the arc and knock down open shots, yet he finished a smidgen under the league average when it came to catch-and-shoot 3s (36.3 percent).

There were flashes at times last year (it should be noted that Stauskas was fairly impressive at getting to the rim), but his struggles led the team to sign free agent Gerald Henderson (who will presumably get the nod at SG on Opening Night). Furthermore, they also likely played a hand in the drafting of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz back in June.

Working in the Canadian sharpshooter's favor is the fact that he's got a certain Brett Brown in his corner. At a recent pre-season media gathering, the Sixers' head coach said that he's "so proud of the summer Nik Stauskas as put in" and noted that the former Michigan guard has spent much of the offseason in the weight room.

With the additions of Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriguez, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons, the Honeygrow-loving Stauskas is set to play alongside four playmakers arguably better than anyone he suited up with last season. And given that Joel Embiid and a newly-slimmed down Jahlil Okafor should attract a fair amount of attention in the post, there will be plenty of chances for Stauskas to remind us of that 19-year-old kid shooting jumpshots in the rain.

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