Let’s play a game, shall we? For the sake of argument, and because I just like to play Devil’s Advoate, let’s weigh Nik Stauskas‘s options for him as the deadline to enter the NBA Draft draws closer and closer. Stauskas has a lot to offer for both sides of this argument, and I wouldn’t be shocked by either choice he makes.
First, let’s see the pros for staying another year at the University of Michigan:
• Stauskas has made a name for himself in the Crisler Center after some remarkable achievements this season, so he could look to add to his résumé next year.
• Stauskas and company, over the last two seasons, has made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament and has never been knocked out before the Elite Eight, so big time games seem to follow him. Could he try and go for his second National Championship berth in 3 seasons?
• A National Championship is something Michigan hasn’t had since 1989, but have been to the game recently (2013 runner-up.) Stauskas knows that if he stays, and so do Michigan’s other elite players such as Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, he has a shot to compete for another one.
• Building on his draft stock by having another season like he had in 2014, could bump him into the Top 5 conversation, and prove this season was no fluke. He’s developed a lot over the course of one offseason, and if he duplicates his work ethic this offseason, he can be better than he already is.
Now, after looking over the postives Stauskas has by coming back to school, let’s check out the negatives.
• Although Stauskas had a very good season, more than likely he won’t have his draft stock this high again in his collegiate career. He took the league by storm, much like former teammate — and current Utah Jazz PG Trey Burke — and led his team to an outright Big Ten Championship in a season that was supposed to be a down year. He could make the case to an NBA executive looking to draft him that he could do the same for their franchise.
• Getting paid top dollar for your performance is something everyone wants, and I’m sure Stauskas is no different. He could be making millions in the NBA before he could legally have a beer to celebrate a win, so it could be hard to pass up the cash, regardless if it’s American or Canadian currency. If he stays in Ann Arbor, he is essentially losing money. Money isn’t everything, but it is hard to deny that kind of money.
• Returning to college would be risky for Stauskas. He could literally look on his bench for the reason why. McGary was a force in the NCAA Tournament before he returned to school, and he ended up only playing eight (8) games for Michigan before being shut down for the season with a back injury. Stauskas has proved to be durable, but he is not impervious to injury.
Stauskas has a lot to think about, especially if his teammates decide to return too. I don’t think he should base his decision soley on the other men returning, but I do think it plays a key factor. Having a starting lineup of Caris LeVert, Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, and Derrick Walton JR. would make it hard for any team to beat them, so it is enticing. The floor is all Stauskas’s right now, and I’m sure all eyes are on him right now. We’ll see soon how it pans out, and how it impacts the Wolverines whenever it happens.