Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Michigan State’s Gary Harris are two shooting guards who are on the Denver Nuggets’ radar for the upcoming NBA Draft. Harris worked out for the Nuggets in Denver on June 5, and the team’s official site currently has Stauskas listed as one of the top three shooting guards available in this year’s draft (along with Harris and Kentucky’s James Young).
If Denver stays in the number 11 slot, there’s a good chance that both Stauskas and Harris still may be available, leaving Tim Connelly and the rest of the Nuggets war-room staff with a difficult decision. Luckily, the two players faced each other in three games during the 2014 NCAA season, and the team over at Draft Express has compiled a video showing how the two dueling guards performed in those head-to-head match-ups:
The teams met on January 25 in East Lansing with Michigan stealing one on the enemy’s court by defeating the Spartans 80-75. The rematch went down in Ann Arbor on February 23 and produced a similar outcome; the Wolverines sent Sparty packing following a 79-70 defeat. The third and final meeting of 2014 occurred on March 16 in the final game of the Big Ten Tournament, and State finally exacted their revenge, pulling away from Big Blue for a 69-55 victory on the neutral court of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
As noted in the Draft Express video, during the three contests Stauskas was only briefly assigned to guard Harris, while Harris was consistently matched-up to defend Stauskas. Here’s a look at how the two players fared in those head-to-head match ups:
Nik Stauskas vs Gary Harris Head-to-Head
|Points Per Game||20.3||21.0|
|Field Goal Percentage||39.1%||63.6%|
|3-Point Field Goal Percentage||68.8%||37.5%|
|Free Throw Percentage||83.3%||66.7%|
As you can see from watching the highlights, Stauskas shot well in the three games against Michigan State, especially from beyond the arc. He used screens to shed Harris and pull up for open jumpers. Stauskas also took advantage of the height difference (Stauskas stands 6’6″; Harris measures 6’4″) and was able to get passes by Harris. The defense of Harris was a factor, though, as he forced Stauskas to frequently settle for contested shots both inside and outside the three-point line and caused multiple turnovers.
While Stuaskas only defended his Michigan State counterpart on a few possessions, Harris got the best of him during the majority of those instances. That shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise, as Stuaskas is known to struggle on the defensive end, which is perhaps the most glaring deficiency in his game.
Draft Express summarizes the match-ups with the following analysis:
- Stauskas shot the ball well & was able to get off solid looks
- Harris did a good job containing penetration & forcing jumpers
- Harris burned Stauskas easily the few times he did defend him
- Stauskas impacted the game in other ways – passing, cutting
- Harris’ strength and toughness advantage showed at the rim
In the end, which player you think emerged as the winner of the head-to-head match-ups probably boils down to which guard you’d prefer to see the Nuggets take with pick number 11. Harris is probably more NBA ready, but he also possesses a skill set that countless other non-impact 2-guards possess at the pro level. Stauskas has some weaknesses, especially on defense, but he is as deadly a shooter as they come, and that’s something there is always a place for in the NBA. Personally, I still cast my vote for Stauskas if the choice comes down to these two players, as I think he has a chance to bring a much needed deep-threat to a Nuggets team who didn’t excel at 3-point shooting last year.
What do you think, Nuggets fans? If Denver settles on these two players, who would you rather see wear the blue and gold next year? Share your thoughts in the comments below or get at me on Twitter @TheSEShepherd.