SACRAMENTO — When Nik Stauskas upgraded his game to add playmaking skills to his elite outside shooting, he vaulted himself into the NBA lottery.
But it's still that unlimited range that made him so valuable to the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings looked to fill their shooting void by taking perhaps the best marksman available in the draft when they selected Stauskas, a star at Michigan, with the eighth overall pick on Thursday night.
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"As much as I've expanded my game over the past couple of years, shooting is definitely the thing I do best," he said. "I take pride in that. I feel like when I get my feet set and I get a good look at the basket, there are not many people in the league who can knock down shots like I can. I'm looking forward to bringing that skill-set to Sacramento."
It's much needed on a team that made the third-fewest 3-pointers in the league last season with 491 and had the fourth worst accuracy from long-range at 33.3 percent.
This marks the second straight season the Kings used a top 10 pick on a shooting guard. But Stauskas is a much more accomplished shooter than last year's seventh pick Ben McLemore, who shot 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from long range as a rookie, and also showed last year that he has the ability to run an offense as well.
"I think I can play multiple positions," he said. "I think I can play a little bit of one and also the two. I know this team has kind of struggled shooting the ball. Obviously, that's probably the best part of my game to this point. Knocking down shots and spreading the floor is something I'm excited to do for this team."
The 6-foot-6 Stauskas became one of the nation's most well-rounded offensive players, averaging 17.5 points last season on the way to winning Big Ten player of the year honors.
Stauskas shot 44 percent from 3-point range in two years in college and improved his ball handling and defense considerably in his second season when he took over a big share of the playmaking role with the departure of star point guard Trey Burke to the NBA.
Stauskas excelled as a shooter and passer in pick-and-roll situations that are so prevalent in the NBA.
"That's the reason why teams have been intrigued with me in the draft is because I made those improvements," he said. "I feel like I'm a smart basketball player. I have a high IQ for the game and I like making the right plays."
Stauskas grew up in Mississauga, Ont., and followed top pick Andrew Wiggins as the second Canadian taken in the draft. A third Canadian, Tyler Ennis, was taken 18th by Phoenix.
The Kings are coming off their eighth straight losing season but are looking for improvement in the second season under owner Vivek Ranadive, general manager Pete D'Alessandro and coach Mike Malone.
There was little progress in the first year under the new leadership as Sacramento went 28-54 for a second straight season as Malone was not able to turn the Kings into the defensive-minded team as he had hoped.
Sacramento is looking to build around a core led by temperamental power forward DeMarcus Cousins, small forward Rudy Gay and point guard Isaiah Thomas. Cousins signed a four-year, $62 million contract extension before last season, Gay exercised his $19.2 million option earlier this week and Thomas is expected to stay despite being a restricted free agent.
Oklahoma City grabbed Stauskas’ Michigan teammate, Mitch McGary, with the 21st overall pick.
McGary, at 6-foot-10 and 255-pounds, averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds last season, but he played just eight games after electing to have back surgery. He tested positive for marijuana last season and faced a suspension, so he left after his sophomore year.
Oklahoma City might be looking toward the future at the power forward and center spots. Starting center Kendrick Perkins is entering the last year of his deal, and Steven Adams appears to be the future at the position. Reserve power forward Nick Collison also is entering the last year of his contract.
McGary joins a Thunder squad that features MVP Kevin Durant, point guard Russell Westbrook and defensive stopper Serge Ibaka and is knocking on the door of an NBA title. Oklahoma City is coming off a 59-23 campaign that ended with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.
Earlier in the night, Kansas center Joel Embiid found out he will be rehabilitating his broken foot in Philadelphia.
He landed with a 76ers organization that has perfected the craft of waiting out big men to recover.
The Sixers selected Embiid with the third pick, even though he could miss up to a full season depending on how his rehab goes.
That's fine with the rebuilding Sixers, who are clearly willing to wait. They acquired Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel on a draft-night deal last year and he never played a game as he recovered from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The year before, former center Andrew Bynum never played a second for the Sixers because of bad knees.
The versatile 7-foot Embiid had a fantastic freshman season with the Jayhawks, averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds while blocking 72 shots to earn Big 12 defensive player of the year honors.
"Hello Philly!!!!" he tweeted. "Couldn't be happier to be a 76er!!!"
He was hurt during predraft workouts and had surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.
Embiid already had some health questions, mostly regarding a balky back. Now he's had foot surgery and could be out for up to six months.
"Welcome to Philadelphia Joel," team CEO Scott O'Neil tweeted.
He was believed he could be the choice of the Cavaliers before his foot was diagnosed.
The Sixers held the No. 3 pick because of a 19-63 record last season out of a team full of D-League castoffs and stopgap players. They had the No. 10 pick because of general manager Sam Hinkie's stunning 2013 draft night deal that saw them trade All-Star Jrue Holiday for Noel and the pick.
The Sixers selected Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton with the 10th pick of the NBA draft. He didn't last long, traded to Orlando for Croatian forward Dario Saric and a pair of future draft picks.
The 6-foot-10 Saric was named 2013 FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year and averaged 16.7 points per game in helping Cibona VIP to a league title. He also competed for Croatia's national team in the 2013 Eurobasket qualifying round.
The Sixers also had the Nos. 32, 39, 47, 52, and 54 overall picks.
Pistons take guard
DETROIT — The Detroit Pistons selected Colorado shooting guard Spencer Dinwiddie with the No. 38 overall pick in the NBA draft.
Detroit took Dinwiddie early in the second round on Thursday night to play for first-year executive and coach Stan Van Gundy.
The Pistons went into the night without a first-round slot, giving up the No. 9 pick to Charlotte to complete a previous salary-cap saving trade for Ben Gordon. Van Gundy said earlier in the week he would be willing to move back into the first round if a team with one of the last picks would be willing to give it up for a future second-rounder and cash. That potential trade did not happen.