NBA Roundup: Former Wolverines off to an up-and-down start

Alejandro Zúñiga

As the Michigan’s current team struggles to replace some of its early entry losses, we turn our attention to former Wolverines in the NBA — several of whom have had a rocky start to the season.

Nik Stauskas had a breakout game Monday against Trey Burke and the Utah Jazz. The 2014 NBA Draft lottery pick scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting accompanied with eight rebounds in 30 minutes. (Highlights)

But the game was an anomaly for Stauskas, who has an eFG of 39.2% and is averaging just 3.2 points per game. (He’s shooting 32.5% on the season and 23.4% from three-point range.)

“You think you have an open look but guys are so quick and they’ve got long wingspans. They close out real quick and you don’t have a lot of time to get that jumper off,” Stauskas told The Salt Lake Tribune.

As Vantage Sports notes, the issue for Stauskas seems to be one of confidence. A sharpshooter at Michigan, he was making just 29.41% of his open looks in the NBA before Monday’s game, the worst mark for any point guard in that category.

Struggling so much with his bread-and-butter in shooting the basketball, Stauskas seems to be experiencing a crisis of confidence of sorts, often overthinking and hesitating. Here Stauskas nicely pump-fakes a defender into a wide-open shot attempt, only to hesistate and overpass, eventually leading to a Kings turnover.

Part of that is a result of him taking shots further away from the rim than the majority of the NBA’s other point guards; according to Vantage Sports, Stauskas was in the top five of qualified point guards in taking shots far from the rim and, as a result, has among the worst points per chance in the league.


Burke, meanwhile, had 13 points and five assists Monday, part of a solid second-year campaign. He’s averaging 11.3 points with a 42.8% eFG for the Utah Jazz and has scored in double-digits in all but one game this month.

Burke has had his fair share of ups and downs in the league, but the last month has been impressive. As SBNation site SLC Dunk points out, the backcourt of Burke and Alec Burks is already solid in their first year starting together and should only improve with experience.

My “eyeball test” of the Burkseses is that they show flashes of being legit NBA players, perhaps long term starters in the NBA. However, flashes aren’t enough if we are expecting them to play at the level of a playoff bound backcourt. When you look at the whole NBA you see that offensively they are “right there” in the middle (OFF RTG analysis at the top). Defense is a mystery to about 13 players on our team right now, so I’m not going to single them out. But when you look at the Jazz history you also see that while Burke and Burks aren’t stellar, they are indeed better than some groups you wouldn’t have thought.

On the East Coast, Tim Hardaway Jr. is a valuable bench player for the New York Knicks, scoring 9.3 points per game. But as the Knicks have struggled to a 4-20 record (including 10 losses in a row), tensions appear to be growing between Hardaway and Carmelo Anthony.

“Anthony used another expletive in telling Hardaway he was going to beat him up when they got into the locker room after the game.”

“Certain his second-year teammate was speaking to him, Carmelo Anthony approached Hardaway on the way down the court and used an expletive to ask Hardaway who in the world he thought he was talking to,” reported ESPN’s Chris Broussard. “Anthony … used another expletive in telling Hardaway he was going to beat him up when they got into the locker room after the game.”

Before the Knicks lost to San Antonio yesterday, Anthony and Hardaway confirmed that the argument had happened, but, as the former Michigan forward said, “We’re brothers. Brothers argue in the heat of the moment and then they make up.”

Glenn Robinson III has played limited minutes during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Robinson is averaging 5.1 minutes and 1.9 points per game and has seen action eight times this season.

Finally, the Oklahoma City Thunder sent Mitch McGary — who has yet to appear in a regular-season game — to its D-League affiliate Wednesday. The former Wolverines has been on and off the active roster all season since recovering from a fractured foot suffered in October.

But we’ll end this update on a positive note: Last night, McGary scored a team-best 26 points with nine rebounds, four blocks and four steals as the Oklahoma City Blue topped the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

  • Cory

    It’s hard to watch those McGary highlights knowing that if he stayed we’d be 9-0 and a top 10 team right now. Ahhhhh what could have been.

    • TDGR

      My thoughts exactly. So happy to see him healthy and playing well but, had things gone differently, I don’t think its a stretch to say Michigan is undefeated going into the Arizona game with a healthy McGary on the roster.

    • CZGuy99

      If “ifs and buts were candy and nuts, wouldn’t it be a Merry Christmas”… we’ve got to stand behind a young team with growing pains

  • Skinz

    He would of been suspended for first half of the year for failing that drug test.

    • countourzealous

      If only we had McGary for SOME of the B1G campaign. Oh well.

  • Champswest

    Over the last two years, we have lost 9 years of eligibility (Burke 2, Hardaway 1, Stauskas, Robinson & McGary 2 each) to the NBA. This year we could have had a starting lineup of Burke, Stauskas, LeVert, Robinson and McGary (with Walton, Irvin, Spike, Chatman & Doyle coming off the bench). You can’t lose that much talent year after year unless you have a roster full of 4 & 5 star players like Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, etc. Beilein’s guys need time to develope and learn the system.

    • countourzealous

      Have you been watching Michigan basketball at all for the last two years? Yea, we could have had that lineup. They went to the draft because they were exceptional college players. McGary messed up with that drug test. If that weren’t the case, we’d probably be B1G title contenders.

  • Joskxo

    What about Manny, Darius, Deshawn, and the rest of the Wolverines? All over seas?

  • A2JD

    Let’s not leave Jamal Crawford out, Alejandro. He’s having another very good season.
    Also, I don’t think Nik has seem much time at PG this year. He’s primarily backing up Ben McLemore.

    Most of the younger former-Wolverines are having slow starts but Burke is starting to step it up. His numbers are much better over his last 10 games. Hopefully, he and the other young guys will start to click more often.