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Charlotte Hornets should take Nik Stauskas, college basketball’s best shooter, at No. 9

Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for more than 20 years and has been at the paper for more than 25, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.
NCAA Tennessee Michigan Basketball
Michael Conroy - AP
Michigan’s Nik Stauskas shot 44 percent from 3-point range in his two seasons of college basketball, but shooting is not all he will bring to an NBA team.

The Charlotte Hornets have to find a shooter. More than any quality, a shooter is what they lack. With the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Hornets likely will have the opportunity to take college basketball’s best shooter – Michigan’s Nik Stauskas.

Look at that shot. It’s so pretty you want to put an expensive frame around it and post a picture or send it to your friends.

There’s so much evidence of Stauskas’ work on YouTube that teammates call him Tube. He shoots in his yard, in the rain, at NBA workouts and over Big Ten defenses skewed to stop him. The Big Ten was loaded last season, and Stauskas, 20, was the conference’s player of the year.

At 6-6 and 207 pounds, he is a decent athlete. He can handle the ball and he can pass. But he’s a shooter, and whatever else he offers, and he will, is a bonus.

Other good players will be available at No. 9. North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston is intriguing. He has a strong body and a pretty shot and, because of a series of troubles he created, came up the hard way. I won’t complain if the Hornets draft him.

If Charlotte takes Doug McDermott, I’ll understand. He’s a scorer more than a shooter and he spent four years proving it at Creighton.

A player who apparently impressed Charlotte with his workout is Duke forward Rodney Hood. Hood can go to the basket and hit from the outside. He’s another acceptable pick.

But I love Stauskas. The problem with the draft, with any draft, is that we have so much time to consider the candidates we favor that they become larger than they are. The guy will be an all-star. He can’t miss. If the Hornets don’t take him, they’ll need years to recover, each of them full of tears and regret.

By Thursday night, Stauskas might be 6-8.

Yet how many nights last season was Charlotte undone by inconsistent outside shooting? If Kemba Walker had a shooter to feed, defenses would have to adjust and extend. Beneficiaries would be Al Jefferson, who’d have more space inside, and Walker, who would have room to move.

Stauskas hit 44 percent of his three-pointers as a freshman and 44.2 percent last season as a sophomore.

He’s a pure and natural shooter and a fantastic fit for a team that desperately needs one.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen
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