Though Nik Stauskas has come back down to earth since his Blazers debut, when he dropped 24 points on LeBron James and the Lakers in the season opener, there’s no denying that he’s been a key contributor off the bench this season. The former lottery pick had relatively low expectations from the fan base coming in, given his lack of consistent production at the NBA level, but for the most part has answered the call of duty so far.
Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal, in fact, argues that “Sauce” has been the most surprising player for the Blazers this season, in a piece naming one such player from each team.
Of Stauskas, Fromal writes:
Nik Stauskas has been trending toward becoming a dangerous shooter from the perimeter. He entered 2018-19, his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers, with a career 34.9 percent clip from beyond the arc, but he’d knocked down 36.8 percent of his treys for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016-17 and an even 40 percent one year later while playing for both the Sixers and the Brooklyn Nets.
Now, he’s hitting 40.8 percent of his long-range attempts in Rip City while taking 3.4 attempts per game. Even more importantly, he’s learned how to maximize the rest of his offensive game under the supervision of head coach Terry Stotts. By taking fewer long twos and more shots right around the hoop, he’s knocking down 46.3 percent of his two-point attempts and becoming more effective with his mid-range attempts.
Sure, the artist known as Sauce Castillo has cooled a bit in November. But if an 18-point outing against the Orlando Magic on Nov. 28 is any indication, he’s just biding his time, waiting to be called upon to again fill a bigger offensive role.
At the very least, he’s gone from fringe NBA talent signing on with Portland for one year and $1.6 million to looking the part of a viable bench scorer with the potential to catch fire on any given night.
The 25-year old Canadian is averaging an even seven points in just shy of 17 minutes of action per night, and has appeared in all 24 of the team’s games.
Do you agree that Stauskas has been the Blazers’ biggest surprise this season, and if not, who do you think is (good or bad)? Let us know in the comments!