Good Fits For Former U-M/MSU Stars in NBA?

Nik Stauskas

With five players from Michigan and Michigan State hearing their name called at the 2014 NBA draft, Scout.com's Brian Snow takes a closer look at their fit with each team and what to expect in their rookie seasons.

It was a big draft night for the Michigan and Michigan State basketball programs Thursday.

With five total players hearing their names called, fulfilling their dreams of playing in the NBA, Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Brian Snow weighs in on the fits with their specific franchises, what to expect their rookie seasons, and projects their long term futures in the league.

SG Nik StauskasSacramento Kings – No. 8 Overall

“You know certainly the Kings needed guys who can shoot the ball and Stauskas obviously fits that bill,” Snow said. “I think there’s a little bit of repetitiveness on the roster with Rudy Gay and him and Ben McLemore and can they all play together? Probably not. But clearly by taking Stauskas the Kings say they aren’t sold on Ben McLemore as a player so I think in their ideal world Stauskas could be the starter from day one. Now, that also depends on what they’re going to do with Isaiah Thomas who is a restricted free agent and had a great season for them at point guard but he’s kind of an undersized two guard almost. That’ll be interesting but in general I think it’s a good fit because it fills the biggest need and I’ve learned not to doubt Nik Stauskas in terms of he’s a good athlete, I think he’s an average NBA athlete and he’s got good length and he can really shoot the ball. While he may never be an all star or anything like that I think he can carve out a long career in the NBA for himself.”

Could Stauskas be the starter at the two his rookie season?

“I think that’s certainly possible and you know what they say about rookies you should be seen and not heard. I think Nik, even though he plays with a lot of arrogance on the court, and I say that as a glowing compliment, I think he’s not dumb enough to rock the boat and try to be Rudy Gay or everything in that nature. I think he’ll have a good rookie year, put up some numbers and make his presence felt.”

PF Adreian PayneAtlanta Hawks – No. 15 Overall

“I think it’s a decent fit for Adreian,” Snow said. “Clearly they’ve got Paul Millsap and Al Horford already, the question is can Millsap play the three and how will Payne fit in next to Horford. I think he fits nice next to Horford I’m just not sure if you can put Millsap, Payne and Horford on the floor at the same time. So I think Adreian will have to spell both of them which is fine and I think he can handle that. So, I think it’s a little bit of an interesting fit maybe not ideal but he’s going to a good team, not a great team, and a team that’s missing his specific skill set and I believe early on he could get some minutes probably backing up both guys. And then going forward Adreian is a little bit older so he might not project quite as an all star or anything like that but I think he can also have a long career and as long as he keeps continuing to improve at the rate he improved at in his time at Michigan State.”

Were injuries a concern for Payne?

“I don’t think it was a huge concern. I think the big concern was that he’s 23 years old already and he’s got some limitations there and maybe not physically, athletically but in terms of his skill set within the game and I think that was a much bigger concern for everyone than the injury. He doesn’t have a history of injuries and teams aren’t ridiculous, they know injuries can happen in the game of basketball.”

SG Gary HarrisDenver Nuggets – No. 19 Overall

“Clearly Gary year one is going to be a back up. He’s not better than Aaron Afflalo is right now and Aaron Afflalo is making $7.5 million a year and they traded for him for the purpose of helping get them further in the playoffs. But I think that’s good for Gary, he’s not 20 years old yet and he will be asked to come in and spell Aaron Afflalo, 15 minutes, maybe a couple minutes at point guard which isn’t ideal but it’s something he’s tried to do for a few minutes at a time and be in the second unit to provide energy and carve out a niche that way. Early on he’s probably not going to have a big impact but in terms of his career I really, that’s a kid I got to know really well and I’m sold on him as a long term player, he’s going to be a great defender and I think he’s a better shooter than he showed this year with all the body issues I don’t think he got his balance perfect this year. But I think long term Gary Harris is going to have a tremendous career and be one of the top, in that second tier of two guards, for a long period of time.”

Are there any current or former players that compare closely with Harris?

“If everything went perfectly for Gary, the guy people point to could be like a Bradley Beal. Brad’s a little bit bigger, a little bit more natural of a scorer and shooter but if his development curve went perfect I think he could be a Brad Beal type player. Maybe even like a Tony Allen who has stuck in the league for forever and has made a lot of money. Allen is a really tough defender, good athlete and good teammate so maybe a Tony Allen in there as well.”

C Mitch McGary – Oklahoma City Thunder – No. 21 Overall

“I think it’s a good fit for Mitch,” Snow said. “I think he can play power forward in the NBA so I think Steven Adams is clearly the future down low for the Thunder and I think you could put Mitch next to Steven Adams and you just have two, big, physical and nasty dudes down low. Adams is probably a better scorer, Mitch a better passer and they’re both really good rebounders. Neither of them are going to demand the ball a lot and that’s good because when you have Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant you’re not getting the ball nor should you because those are two bad dudes. I think it’s a good fit for Mitch. Early on, everything depends on his back. I’m going to assume he’s going to be healthy. I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV so I don’t know the deal but I’m assuming the Thunder promised him, they had the medicals and said this would be fine. So, maybe in year one with the inactivity he’s had and there’s still a learning curve, they’re still probably going to have Kendrick Perkins there. Maybe he doesn’t get a ton of run in year one but moving forward I think he could be a tremendous role player and a solid role guy who is just asked to rebound and give energy and play through him a little bit out of the high post.”

Showing a great deal of potential in the 2013 NCAA tournament, is there more to look forward to with McGary’s development?

“In the NCAA tournament, he scored off of Trey Burke handing him the ball and him dunking. I didn’t really think he did a ton but what he can do is he can guard, he can rebound, and if you can do those two things at 6-foot-10, 250-pounds, you can stay in the league a long time. Now, it might be a Kendrick Perkins career or something like that but, I mean, Kwame Brown stayed in the league for 12 years because he was big and he could rebound and made like $70 million in the process. I think Mitch can be an 8th, 9th guy for a long time just giving energy and rebounding.”

SF Glenn Robinson III – Minnesota Timberwolves – No. 40 Overall

“Ideally I think for Minnesota they would be able to put him in the developmental league for a while but the question is with Minnesota and that tremendous roster, Glenn might make it even if he isn’t ready,” Snow said. “Honestly, I don’t know where Glenn is in terms of being in the NBA. He’s not skilled enough to be a wing, he’s not rugged enough to be a power forward at his size. He’s a tremendous athlete but in terms of the NBA going forward I’ve always seen him as more of a Europe player because I don’t know what he is and when you’re talking at the NBA level.”

Excelling with elite point guard play, how important could it be for Robinson III to play alongside a Ricky Rubio?

“He’s tremendously dependent on that because his biggest weakness is his ability to handle the basketball. So he’s not going to create for himself but what Glenn does really well is he moves well without the ball so he’s good at offensive rebounding, just knowing how to get the ball of the rim, attacking at the right time and he cuts well without the ball so if you have a point guard that can pass it that gets him the ball in the right spot he just jumps up and dunks which is an impressive skill. I think he’s very dependent on that and he needs that but in order to stick I think he’s going to have to be more than that. Now, if he was a big high energy guy who had a tremendous motor I wouldn’t be as concerned but he hasn’t shown that in the past and that certainly is some concern.”

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