Going into the 2014 NBA Draft, the Kings hadn’t had a winning record in eight consecutive seasons, and in that time, Sacramento never came close to the playoffs.
The front office had not made a credible draft selection since picking Isaiah Thomas with the last choice in the 2011 draft and had not drafted a solid player in the first round since DeMarcus Cousins in 2010.
The Kings went 28-54 for a second consecutive season in 2013-14 giving Sacramento yet another lottery pick, this time having the eighth selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Most mock drafts had the Kings selecting Elfrid Payton, a point guard out of Louisiana Lafayette, or Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle if they had dropped far enough in the draft.
When draft night came, Aaron Gordon was taken with the fourth pick and Julius Randle was on the board all the way until the seventh pick, right before Sacramento’s selection. It seemed that Payton would be the obvious choice as the Kings were searching for a point guard of the future after knowing Isaiah Thomas would be departing from California’s capital later that offseason.
But as the Kings’ front office were ready to make their easy decision, a voice spoke up in opposition. The vocal member? Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive. Vivek began preaching that they should select Nik Stauskas instead, citing: “I think he (Stauskas) claims that he made 91 out of 100 threes.”
So what do you do when the person who employs you is going against the consensus of the group? Well, you make his decision the consensus, which just goes to show how big of a mess this front office really is.
Being part of the Warriors organization before buying the Kings, Vivek was searching for the next Steph Curry as we all know. Thinking he has found it in Nik Stauskas, he “persuaded” the front office, and it was in that moment that the Kings made yet another terrible first round selection.
Stauskas did nothing wrong except be drafted by a dumpster fire of an organization. He probably was wondering why the Kings had drafted him a year removed from Sacramento selecting Ben McLemore with their previous lottery pick.
Stauskas’ time in Sacramento was short-lived and uneventful except for the closed captioning error that lead to his nickname of “Sauce Castillo” which lead to there being a Sauce Castillo Night, in which I had the pleasure to attend. (Yes, I still have my shirt and bottles of hot sauce).
In the offseason, newly named general manager, Vlade Divac, began showing Kings fans why he might not be qualified to have such an important position in the front office.
Divac traded Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a future first round pick, and the right to swap first round picks in 2016 or 2017 to the 76ers in exchange for the rights to nobodies. And when I say nobodies, I mean Artūras Gudaitisand and Luka Mitrović. The trade was more of a salary dump for the Kings, but the transaction would haunt Sacramento later down the line. But that’s a different story for another time.
Stauskas played on a couple of horrendous Sixers teams. In his first season, Philadelphia managed to only win 10 games, upping the number to 28 in his second year. Stauskas was playing better in the City of Brotherly Love though but only because he was given more opportunity.
Early into his third season with the Sixers, Nik was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Stauskas shot the ball well in his 35 games in Brooklyn which in turn helped him land a contract with the Portland Trailblazers during the 2018 offseason.
In his first game with Portland, Stauskas dropped a career high 24 points off the bench to help lead the Traiblazers past the Lakers. Stauskas played 43 more games with Portland before being traded to the Cavaliers prior to the trade deadline.
Three days later, he was traded again, this time to the Houston Rockets. A few hours later, he was part of another trade that sent him to the Pacers. The Pacers waived Stauskas on February 8, and on February 11, he signed with the Cavs, the same team he was traded to originally.
Stauskas played 24 games with Cleveland while posting mediocre numbers. When the offseason rolled around, he knew his time in the NBA had come to an end at the ripe age of 25.
In August of 2019, Stauskas headed over to Spain to play basketball and by February of this year, his contract was terminated with his Spanish club.
It’s crazy to think that Nik Stauskas is only 26 years old and out of basketball at the moment. Was he a victim of the system? Or did he just truly never stand a chance?
Welcome to being drafted by Sacramento. Chances are that you weren’t going to be good anyways, but even if you would have, the Kings would have probably screwed you up anyways.
Stauskas is just another forgotten name in a long list of Sacramento’s failed lottery picks.