Nik Stauskas knows he’ll get attacked defensively because ‘I’m a rookie and I’m white’


I like how Nik Stauskas projects to the NBA.

He’s an elite 3-point shooter, and his complementary offensive skills are underrated. And I might be a little biased because I also attended the University of Michigan.

But not even I would have drafted Stauskas No. 8, which the Kings did.

Stauskas has flaws, namely his defense is lacking. Obviously, opponents will look to take advantage.

Stauskas, via James Jones of The Sacramento Bee

“I understand that I’m a rookie and I’m white, so people are going to attack me at all times,” he said. “Just coming out there in the game, I felt it right away.”

The biggest reason he’ll get attacked defensively? He’s not a good defender. That, far and away, is No. 1.

His reasons? There’s truth to them, too.

Rookies tend to struggle defensively. It can be tough to pick up NBA concepts and handle NBA athletes immediately. So, opponents will attack rookies until they earn the benefit of the doubt.

And Stauskas’ race, yeah, that gets noticed by opponents, too. It happens at all levels of basketball, including the NBA. White players are perceived to be worse, softer or whatever negative adjective you want to apply.

It would be great if we didn’t judge by race. That’s a good goal to strive toward. But if one element of black privilege is black basketball players are perceived to be better defenders, I just can’t get worked up by that. White privilege affects so many serious areas of our society, an overwhelming amount compared to whatever amount of back privilege exists.

White basketball players being perceived to be worse defenders clearly doesn’t influence other facets of life. On the other hand, America has a long history of mistreating those with African heritage. So when “African” gets used pejoratively about Luol Deng, that matters more. It’s reinforcing more troubling behavior.

So, to anyone significantly upset by what Stauskas said or the conditions that led him to saying it, I have one question: Is your outrage real or do you just believe you should care? If you’re legitimately outraged, great, you’re entitled. But I suspect that doesn’t apply to many.