Nik Stauskas pleased with play in first NBA game

Sacramento Kings' Nik Stauskas takes a breather during Summer League. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Nik Stauskas felt the jitters. About what you’d expect from a rookie who stepped onto an NBA court for the first time as a pro Sunday night.

In his first preseason contest, the Sacramento Kings rookie guard finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting off the bench. There were good and bad things to take away from his first NBA outing, but Stauskas was overall pleased with how he performed.

“I think when I first checked into the game, I was a little nervous,” the 20-year-old rookie guard said after practice on Monday afternoon. “But once you get into the flow of things, once I had my first shot, I kind of settled down and got more comfortable.”

Stauskas was able to hold his own defensively in Sunday night’s preseason contest against the Toronto Raptors. The opposition didn’t make the game easy for the first-year shooting guard, testing his will against talented players like DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross over the course of his 25 minutes. Stauskas took the bullseye on his chest in stride.

“I think that happens for every rookie,” the former Michigan Wolverine said. “They kind of come into the game and try to attack you and see how tough you are, so that’s gonna be a challenge I’m gonna have to embrace throughout the year.”

Coming into the NBA, Stauskas faced plenty of skepticism about his defensive abilities at the next level. However, Kings head coach Michael Malone felt the first-year guard answered many questions about his capability to defend in last night’s contest.

“He has a fight to him,” Malone said of Stauskas. “He’s not just gonna roll over and give in and he’s gonna make you work on the other end.”

Even though Sunday night’s game was an exhibition, it didn’t feel that way for the rookie guard. Stauskas and his teammates played in front of a sellout crowd of 18,900 fans at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. And even though the game was played on a neutral court, the Raptors held a distinct advantage since it took place in Canada.

“I think it felt different just because of the atmosphere, packed house and kind of felt like a real away game for us,” Stauskas said. “But just for us, we’ve been in training camp for a while now so to go up against some new faces, new team, it was good experience for us.”

Unfamiliarity part of the reason for Kings turnover woes versus Raptors

It was just a preseason game, but the Sacramento Kings turned the ball over an egregious amount. They coughed up an unusually-high 27 turnovers in Sunday’s five-point loss in Vancouver.

Why did the Kings have so many miscues on offense? Veteran point guard Ramon Sessions says that it was due to a lack of familiarity with one another. Only five players remain from last year’s roster.

“More of just it’s our first week together,” Sessions said following practice on Monday. “New team, new system, a lot of new guys. You expect that coming into the first few games of the preseason.”

Despite the turnovers, the Kings rated highly in other aspects of yesterday’s game. Defensively, they held the Raptors to below 40 percent shooting through the first three quarters. Sessions also believed that everyone gave their best in their first preseason outing of the season.

“One thing you gotta look at is we played hard,” Sessions said. “We’re learning a new system. We don’t have all our plays in yet. Still learning how guys want the ball, where they want the ball so it’s just a matter of us getting reps.”

Kings to run different starting lineup on Tuesday

The Kings get another crack at the Raptors on Tuesday night and will be showcasing a different starting lineup. On Sunday, Malone started a first unit that featured DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson, Ben McLemore and Darren Collison. No word yet from Malone on who he’ll start on Tuesday.

“I’ve got six more games and we’ll continue to change it in regards to who may start at the one, who may start at the two and who may start at the four,” the Kings head coach said on Monday.

Malone won’t have to worry about bruising the ego of one of his players.  Sessions told Cowbell Kingdom that he’s fine with a role as either a starter or a reserve.  Sessions scored 14 points off the Kings’ bench in Sunday’s loss to Toronto.

“For me, it’s my eighth year,” Sessions said.  “I’ve been back and forth.  I started a few, backed up a few.  To me, it really don’t matter.  I’m just blessed to be here, being able to play and help the team out, whatever (role) that is.”

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.