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Rebuilding Nik Stauskas ... Kenny Atkinson’s next challenge

Brooklyn Nets

In writing about the Nets newest guard —and newest Kenny Atkinson reclamation project— Brian Lewis quotes an NBA scout about how Nik Stauskas lost his confidence and how the Nets hope to bring it back.

“He got shell-shocked in Sacramento by [DeMarcus] Cousins. His confidence was shot,” an Eastern Conference scout told The Post. “He had a bad experience there and lost confidence. Cousins is a bad teammate, and it affected him poorly. He comes to Philadelphia, and showed flashes but never consistency, never enough.”


Sounds like a job for the guard whisperer, Atkinson, who turned two other lost souls —Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie — into solid NBA players (with great contracts).

“Obviously, he’s coming from a situation where he wasn’t playing, so we are in the buildup phase [to] build confidence and show him where he can fit and definitely get a sense of where he is psychologically and emotionally,” Atkinson said. “It’s normal. Both of those guys are coming from a situation where they weren’t playing.

“Hopefully the players agree with this — [I’m] a positive coach and someone who builds up and gives players freedom if they do certain things and defend the basketball. Yes, that’s definitely a goal of mine with him is to build up his confidence and give him freedom and obviously hold him accountable on the defensive end.”

It’s not that Stauskas, the overall No. 8 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, played poorly last season. The 24-year-old averaged 9.5 points in 27.4 minutes per game in 80 appearances (27 starts) shooting just under 39 percent from three. Consistency was indeed a problem.

In some of Stauskas best stretches, he was deadly, like from November 11 to November 19 (six games) last season when he posted 14.5 points per game while shooting 66 percent from the floor and 53.6 percent from three, or later that season when he dropped 12.1 points per contest during an eight-game stretch between February 8 and February 27, shooting 47.1 percent from three. In each game, he scored in double figures.

Then, after that great stretch at the end of February, Stauskas shot 9-of-33 —27.2 percent from deep— over the next seven games, averaging 7.0 points per game and not once in scoring double figures. Was his inconsistency a product of a lack of confidence?

This season, after the 76ers acquisition of J.J. Redick on a one-year, $23 million contract, Stauskas was relegated to the bench played only 45 minutes, not much more than teammate Jahlil Okafor.

How long with it take Stauskas to find his role with the Nets? No timetable, but he’ll have some significant help: his Michigan teammate —and roommate— Caris LeVert. LeVert, another Atkinson project turned big success,

"Yeah obviously (i'm excited). We had some good moments in Michigan,” said LeVert. “That's my guy, so I can't wait until he gets in the rhythm of the line-up and play in the game."

Stauskas is very happy with the trade and even before he arrived in Brooklyn, he talked to LeVert, then playing in Mexico City. The teammates talked about the Nets prioritizing development.

“I felt it was a good opportunity to have a new start,” Stauskas said on Monday. “I’m very excited. From talking to coach Atkinson on the offense they run here, I’m very [suited] for that. It’s something I’m comfortable doing.”