NBA Roundup: Sauce Castillo, McGary finding role, Burke struggling

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan has more players in the NBA than it has had in quite some time, but many of them haven’t had the best season. Nik Stauskas picked up a trending nickname, Mitch McGary has continued to excel, but Trey Burke has been stuck in a major rut.

Nik Stauskas picked up the nickname ‘Sauce Castillo’ this week after a closed captioning error referred to him by the name. The nickname stuck and went viral on Thursday afternoon and now the Kings are even selling ‘Sauce Castillo’ uniforms. Stauskas has embraced the nickname despite some early confusion.

Since then there have been seemingly endless memes and photoshops portraying the newly minted Sauce Castillo.

On the court, things haven’t always been so fun for Stauskas, but he’s averaging 7.8 points per game in March, his best as a rookie.

He’s still struggling to find a role, adjust to playing on a losing team and playing for so many different coaches coaches. His shot chart still looks nothing like the lights out shooter that Michigan fans saw in Ann Arbor and he’s averaging just 4.3 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.

Stauskas has been playing better of late, averaging 8 points per game over the last six games and knocking down 6 of his last 12 threes. Stauskas discussed the struggles of his rookie season with

“This is the first time in my life where I’ve played on a losing team,” Stauskas told “This is the first time in my life where I’ve really come off the bench. This is the first time in my life where I’ve had long periods of time where I haven’t played well. There’s a lot of new things that have kind of come at me that I’ve had to adjust to.”

McGary carving out role

Mitch McGary missed significant time this season with injuries, but now he’s healthy and he has a role with the Oklahoma City Thunder as they push toward the playoffs. McGary is averaging 16.2 minutes, 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game since stepping into the Thunder rotation in early February.

Here are highlights of McGary from a 14 point, eight rebound performance against Miami this week.

Burke searching for shot

Trey Burke hasn’t found consistency during his sophomore season in the NBA. He was removed from the starting lineup for rookie Dante Exum midway through the season and he recently went 4 of 22 from the floor in a loss to Minnesota.

“I feel like I kind of let my teammates down because I felt like I got some great looks, but I feel like I shot too many 3s,” he said. “If we could have got the ball in the paint more, it would have opened more things up. That starts with the point guard.”

Despite the ugly showing, Burke actually might have improved a bit since his benching, but he’s facing a crossroads soon.

Importantly, he remains an absolute professional, a truly impressive young man as far as the way he’s handled a bevy of issues often directed squarely at him. Trey is likely the most thoughtful and self-aware interview in the Jazz locker room, and is consistently candid in assessing his own struggles. Some might confuse his on-court troubles with a selfish attitude or an unwillingness to learn, but to this eye, this couldn’t be further from the case. His physical tools may not ever lend themselves to a fashionably late upswing, but if such a window ever does open up, this is a guy who’s shown the work ethic to get there.

But the clock continues to tick. Next season will be the second-last where Trey is under his cost-controlled rookie contract, and his current level of play is only subtracting dollar figures from his next deal. If Exum can channel the missing mental side of his game and take some of the steps offensively the Jazz are surely hoping for by next season, Burke could find the minutes distribution tilting even more heavily away from him. He has a long way to go to convince Utah he’s worth retaining beyond his rookie deal as a long-term piece in any capacity.

The next game out after Burke’s woeful 4 of 22 shooting performance, he bounced back with 22 points on 9 of 19 shooting, but suffered a bizarre pinched nerve injury that left him crumpled on the floor.

The former National Player of the Year is averaging 12.8 points and 4.4 assists per game, but he’s struggled from the floor.

Other notes

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. is averaging 11.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, but the Knicks are just 14-58 on the season.
  • Glenn Robinson III was cut by Minnesota earlier this month, but was quickly picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s played in just two games with the Sixers.
  • Darius Morris is averaging 2.4 points and 1.2 assists in 8.2 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are the fifth team (Lakers, Clippers, 76ers, Grizzlies, Nets) that Morris has played for during his two years in the league.
  • Jamal Crawford is battling the ‘weirdest injury of his career’, but vows to return this season. He’s averaging 16.4 points per game on 40.1% shooting.
  • Chris

    Trey Burke just had 22 against Portland. Great timing.

  • Testing

    Crawford’s injury doesn’t sound that weird, at least compared to Manny Harris’s infamous freezer burn.

  • AADave

    The performance of UofM players in the NBA has been very disappointing. I have not been a huge fan of the NBA in recent years due to the lack of former college players to follow and root for. I was hoping that would change with all the great players UofM has been sending to the NBA in the past few years.

    Morris looks like a wash-out. He’s a great ballhandler and passer but has never been a decent shooter. He may hang on for a few years and grab a few minutes off the bench but that’s it. It’s looking like a similar fate for GR3. He still has a chance to turn it around but it’s looking doubtful. In his case, he has athleticism and a decent stroke but never developed a good handle. And he’s never been a high energy guy. Sad to see such potential wasted. TH Jr. is off to a decent start but is stuck on a terrible team with selfish ball hog Melo. Selfish players like Melo are like a cancer which kills the team. Melo shoots a lot but he sucks. TH Jr. will probably be a good role player but probably will never be a star. There’s still hope though. I had higher hopes for Burke, Stauskas and McGary. They all seem to have an extra dimension and drive which seemed to guarantee stardom at the next level. Burke’s struggles are inexplicable. As for Stauskas, I really don’t think he’s being given a chance to succeed. In a starting role with adequate shot volume to find his rhythm and chemistry with teammates, I think he would thrive and be an all-star. It’s looking doubtful though since NBA coaches are just too stupid to realize his potential. As for McGary, I think he will definitely be a star with enough minutes and good health.

    • The explanation for Burke’s early struggles are that he’s just not very big. Struggles to finish against NBA size. PGs have turned their careers around in the past though.

      Stauskas needs time. Look at Gary Harris, he’s one of the worst shooters in the NBA and has really struggled this year. Figured both of those guys would be able to get buckets, but the NBA is a different level. Few rookies can step in and be good.

      • David Remmler

        Yeah, I think you’re right about Burke’s size being his biggest problem. I thought it might be a problem for him just not this big a problem.

        As for Stauskas, he needs both time AND experience. He needs more minutes. He needs a coach who understands his potential and will give him more of a chance. In Sactown, his coach is apparently too dense to understand this. As for Harris, I think he’s just not a great player. I never thought he was. He’s destined to be just a role player off the bench at best. Stauskas is far more talented.

  • Tony DeMaria

    It’s hard not to wonder if there is some reason on why just about every player Beilein has sent to the pros has failed to live up to expectations, and wonder about the effect it has on the program when going after top recruits.

    First off let me say that the majority of Beilein’s career was made with getting lesser regarded prospects developed and playing well as a team. But if you look at his entire coaching career, he has not coached a single NBA star to this point (unless I’m missing someone). Looking back at least through his Richmond days, I only see a handful of guys who have even made it to the NBA like De’Sean Butler and Joe Alexander. Butler was a 2nd round guy who never played a game in the NBA, and Joe Alexander was a spectacular lottery bust.

    Anyways, if I’m a 5 star prospect and see 5 guys from the same college team enter the NBA and none of them really meet expectations, and then realize that the Michigan coach has never coached a good NBA player, it gives me pause.

    ALL THAT SAID, there is still plenty of time for our guys to develop. And I definitely think considering the back issues and basically a year off from basketball, plus a preseason injury, McGary has played quite well. Stauskas will eventually get an opportunity to prove his worth, THJ has shown that he deserves (IMO) a solid role on a good NBA team as a scorer, and Burke has shown enough flashes to keep hope that he will put it all together and be successful.

    • David Remmler

      It’s simple. in general, Beilein coaches less talented players overall and has never had a player with off the charts superstar talent. I’m talking about physical freaks or just amazing inherently talented basketball players. Those types of players go to places like Kentucky or Duke for the most part. And the sample size is small. And a couple of his players like McGary and Stauskas just started their pro careers and may yet be stars.

      Prior to Michigan, he never really coached NBA level talent. At Michigan, he has only landed a couple recruits with projected NBA level talent (McGary and GR3) but turned many others into NBA level talent.

      • Tony DeMaria

        Right, but that would appeal to a 3 or 4 star player that wants to better his chances of being an NBA player. But then again like you said, a legit 5 star talent that knows he’s going into the NBA is probably going to Kentucky or Duke anyways.

    • Madrox

      I don’t think these players performance will have any effect on recruiting. Look at the NBA leaderboard for win share and its not exactly a list of big time recruits from blue blood programs, plenty of lottery picks flame out. If recruits let the NBA success of program alumni heavily influence their decision we would probably see a far different recruiting landscape.

  • Champswest

    I just find it sad that so many players walk away from promising college careers only to flounder in the pros. I accept that it is their life and right to choose, but they so often tend to over estimate their abilities or their readiness to deal with the realities of NBA life.

    • A2MIKE

      If I could add to that sentiment… And when you go to the NBA, yes it is exciting, but it is also your first job. And the NBA is a cut-throat business. Everyone was a superstar at the college level. So enjoy college, enjoy being the BMOC, because in all likelihood, it will be the last time. If you are always in a rush to get to the next step of your life, you are bound to be disappointed when you get there and will have probably missed out on the best time of your life. Playing in college is as much about developing character, work habit and skills off the court as it is polishing up the 22 foot jumper and on court vision.

      • Madrox

        Who says college is the best years of these guys lives? What if they don’t enjoy busting their butt during practice and games while still maintaining a class load? Maybe they would enjoy getting paid large sums of money to do nothing but work on their game.

        By all accounts the guys who have left Michigan for the pros seem to have strong character and good work ethics. So if they didn’t need to develop those do you think they still need to stay in school? Maybe their desire and drive to not settle for just being the “BMOC” at Michigan is what makes them such good athletes and competitors.

        • John

          No question about it for either Trey or Sauce. They struck while the iron was hot and made the right call. Nothing was going to happen in either of their junior years that would have better prepared them for the NBA or done anything to combat the adjustments they would inevitably face. GRIII on the other hand, I don’t know what kind of basketball existence that is, to be bouncing from team to team riding pine. I think he could have used a year of being more THE GUY in a system before making the jump. I think it would have forced him to improve off the bounce and could have resulted in some enhanced leadership qualities. I think GR III rushed in and probably did himself a disservice.

          • Madrox

            That’s a reasonable point, but my counter to that is none of us really know what GRIII wanted or what would have happened this year. If he came back and was the man, first team all B1G, in contention for B1G POY it would have helped his draft stock. But if he struggled again and showed minimal improvement he would potentially hurt his stock even more and maybe spent another year in a place he wasn’t thrilled to be at anymore.

            He made the decision he thought was best, and has played (barely) for two different teams while still making quite a bit of money. Maybe GRIII is enjoying the life and travel of the NBA far more then showing up to class on a Thursday morning after a Wednesday night game in West Lafayette. I just get a little tired of people criticizing a decision making and thought process we really know nothing about.

          • A2MIKE

            That’s a fair point about not knowing enough information. However, if you think one year of making $450k is a good year, then I disagree. Several guys that stay 4 years through Basketball and Football end up being ‘set up’ with a great business opportunity/job that pays in that neighborhood after you consider taxes, union dues and agent fees. I think we all agree that we have the best interest of the kids in mind, and their is no cookie cutter decision process, everyone is different. I don’t think all kids should return, Trey, Tim, McGary and Stauskas made the right decision.

          • Madrox

            I appreciate the friendly discourse A2Mike, I think we are just looking at this from different view points. One year at 450k would not be great, but I don’t believe GRIII will only be in the league for this one year.

            In addition, guys do get set up with great opportunities after college, but I believe GRIII will have just as many of those opportunities after his NBA career or if he decides to finish up his degree once his playing days are over.

            I just think to many peoples criticism of GRIII, Morris and other players like that are based on their anger over people leaving their University, hidden behind a line about wanting whats best for the athletes. I am not saying that is you, you seem quite reasonable about all this, I just don’t think everyone actually wants what is in the kids best interest.

          • A2MIKE

            I appreciate the different view points as well. I do think too many people just say “go get paid” when it doesn’t actually work like that and there are plenty of examples of success stories of guys who left a little early and guys who stayed four years.

            Michigan basketball will be fine with or without GR3, Morris and the like. Beilein is not mad at these kids for leaving early, so we as fans shouldn’t be either. They are not going to stop playing games because someone left early. Beilein and the coaches and the remaining players will continue to work and life will go on. People thought we were doomed when Morris left and then we won the Big Ten. Same with Burke, and then we won the Big Ten. Michigan Basketball will be fine.

            Maybe because I am older, I look at this with a different perspective, but I hate seeing what happened to GR3, Morris and Manny because in the end they are great kids, but they are just that, KIDS. Most kids dream of PLAYING in the NBA, not making a roster and sitting on the bench most nights. I think there is a definite benefit to staying in college a year or 2 longer for some kids, not all, and maturing just a bit as well as polishing up certain parts of your game.

            The goal is to stay in the NBA and not wash out after 1 contract, because once you are in the D-League or on the 10 day roster cycle, it becomes hard to get off that. GR3 is more talented than several guys playing every night, but the difference is that GR3 is an unknown commodity versus a Tayshaun Prince being a known commodity.

            When you go pro you may have more time to work on your game, and I do question that notion, since most of these kids have 24/7 access to a gym and only have the responsibility of going to class. However, when you are a pro you have more obligations such as autograph signings, appearances, season ticket holder events, as well as being a grown man, and having grown man responsibilities. In the end there is no substitute for playing games. I play competitive golf, and I hit a few hundred balls 3-4 times a week, but there is no substitute for getting out on the course in the moment when you need a big shot or to sink a putt to win, same goes for all sports. Practice helps you perfect the memory muscle but in the end you have to play competitive games because it is different than practice.

          • robpollard

            Of course he made a decision he thought was best; it was just a poor decision. It was very unlikely he’d be a 1st-round pick, and it was a big gamble. I won’t speak to his finances, but my guess is he could have waited a year to go get NBA money.

            Put it this way — he’s played 117 minutes, total, this season. He would have played that in 3 games at UM. I understand it can stink getting up early for a class, but I assume he likes to play basketball, not sitting on a bench. Right now, he’s not playing, even though he’s been on two of the worst teams in the league. The Sixers aren’t playing him b/c he’s just another body — that’s what happens when teams don’t have 1st-round money invested in you.

            One more stat — he has not made one FG in a game that his team has won this year. Not one.

            I wish GRIII well. But he made a mistake, which made his path to success in the NBA harder. Hopefully things will break his way, he’ll get a chance — but we’ll see.

          • Madrox

            Who are you to say it was a poor decision or a mistake? You have no basis for making that statement other then your own opinion, which may or may not be the same as GRIII’s.

            You have zero idea of what Glenn does or does not want. Maybe he was tired of playing basketball and not getting paid, maybe he was tired of playing out of position and forced to guard power forwards at Michigan. Maybe he was just tired of going to class and is happier being paid to sit on the bench and spend all day working on his game.

            You cannot say this year made his path to success in the NBA harder because there is no guarantee another year at Michigan would have done anything to better prepare him for a career in the NBA.

            You can of course have your own opinion but it is just conjecture. The only person who can say whether Glenn’s decision was poor or a mistake is Glenn himself.

        • A2MIKE

          If they don’t enjoy class then go pro. I am not saying they all made the wrong decision, merely that it is hard to know exactly what you are signing up for when you make the decision to enter the job market, aka the NBA.
          I do think that several guys have made the mistake, GR3, D. Morris and M. Harris all come to mind.
          And staying in school to be the BMOC is not settling and has little bearing on being a good athlete or competitor. There are plenty of instances to the contrary of that point. Burke is one.

        • countourzealous

          I wished they stayed, but I have never blamed them for leaving. These guys put Michigan basketball back on the map. They led us to a Final Four. They owe us nothing more than that, and were phenomenal players to watch develop and play. I’ll take that.

    • Madrox

      What does a promising college career get the players other then a free degree, which may not even be in a good field for a lot of players? Sauce Castillo and Burke will probably get more money from their rookie deals then I will make in my entire life.

      They went pro when their draft stock was probably at its peak and will make good money because of it. They will have every opportunity to spend a small portion of that money to pay for the degree they didn’t finish. There is no guarantee staying longer in school would have better prepared them for the NBA, so why not take their best chance to pursue their dream of an NBA career?

    • MAZS

      Sorry, this is just silly. Your goal was to go to Michigan and then hopefully do whatever you are doing. Their goal was to play in the NBA. Playing at Michigan was a means to that end.

      Certainly, Tim, Trey, Nik and Mitch were ready. The NBA said so.

      • psickert1

        I agree that it is silly. People expect players to turn down a fortune to worry aboutbterm paper and studying… it’s is silly. When have a chance to make millions jump at it! You are going to campus to get a nice job…. why shouldn’t be any different going to the NBA ?

  • psickert1

    People might hate me for this but someonew has to say it. Stop complaining. It seems that our players can never catch a break from so called fan.

    First you guys complained us not having nba talent on our roster. Most people complaints about Bielien was didnt develop NBA talent but when he does people complain about it .

    Its teally annoying and it pisses off. *excuse my french but i was born in france!!!*

    • A2MIKE

      Payne played four years and is actually a really good point against your argument.

  • Burke has demonstrated to my satisfaction that he can shoot it in from anywhere. My opinion is that he’s not getting the space he got in college because just for starters, this is the NBA and nobody gets the space the got in college. But more importantly, he’s pretty little by NBA standards and there is no way he’s going to get to the rim with the consistency that he demonstrated here unless somehow he morphs into Tiny Archibald, so they are able to play his jumper tougher.

    I love Trey Burke to pieces and i do believe that he will prove to be a solid, 10 year NBA point guard before he’s finished, but this is exactly why I didn’t want to see the Pistons take him, although it isn’t like Caldwell-Pope has been all that stellar himself.

    Still, I would really like to hear about Burke coming to Ann Arbor this summer to have JB look into his shot.

    • countourzealous

      Stauskas and Burke back on campus? That’d be great. MAKE CARIS STAY

  • Wayman Britt

    Ok, Stone to the Terps, they are going to be good. Now we need Brown to the Wolverines and let the battles begin.

  • JimC_UM

    I love it that people are just going with “Sauce Castillo” now. The other guy doesn’t exist any more.