What you need to know about Nik Stauskas
Nik Stauskas is the newest member of the Sacramento Kings. The 20-year-old guard was formally introduced as the team’s latest addition Saturday afternoon at the team’s practice facility. We’ve written extensively about Stauskas over the last few days, but there’s still a little bit more you should know about the former Michigan Wolverine.
Strength is the key
Stauskas knows his assets as a player, but he’s also well aware of his weaknesses. Above all else, the 20-year-old rookie says his top priority this offseason is to improve his strength.
“I feel like I haven’t fully developed into my body yet,” Stauskas said. “My upper body can probably get a lot stronger as well as my lower body so I feel like I’m underrated athletically, but at the same time I know I have a ways to go. I know this is a grown man’s league and I still have work to do.”
The Kings believe that working on his strength will address at least one of his major weaknesses. Following the draft on Thursday, Kings head coach Michael Malone noted that getting stronger can help Stauskas as he strives to become a better defender in the NBA.
Confidence vs. Cockiness
Stauskas plays the game in a way that toes a fine-line between cockiness and confidence. However that doesn’t mean he isn’t humble. Stauskas says his brashness comes from working hard to earn everything he’s achieved so far in his career.
“That definitely comes from having a chip on my shoulder and at the same time, basketball’s what I love to do,” Stauskas said. “This is what makes me happy. I hope that people get the sense that when I’m out there and I’m talking a little bit of trash, that’s just me having fun and enjoying the game and enjoying all the hard work I’ve put into it. So hopefully I can show that at the next level as well.”
His new head coach would agree. Malone is well aware of Stauskas commitment to making himself into the player he is today and he’s okay with his rookie guard carrying himself with a little bit of bravado.
“Anytime you put that much time and repetition into your craft, that is going to breed that confidence that Nik has,” Malone said. “I think that comes from a good place and that’s just reflective of all the hard work that he’s put in up to this point.”
He may be a Canuck, but hockey wasn’t a sport Stauskas gravitated to in his youth. The 20-year-old guard credits his parents as well as an uncle, who invited him to play for a club team as a kid, for his passion for hoops.
“I don’t know what it was about the game of basketball,” Stauskas said. “I just seemed to love it and it made me happy. And the more I played, the better I got and the better I got, the more I wanted to play. It kind of just became a cycle.”
His parents, Paul and Ruta, have supported him every step of the way in his basketball journey. He enjoys a close relationship with his father, who coached him at a young age, and thanks both his parents for keeping his spirits up when times got tough.
“They’ve been through everything with me,” Stauskas said. “They’ve been through the ups and downs. They were there with me when I left home at 15 to go to a prep school and I’d cry and I’d tell them I wanted to come back home. They supported me through all the hard times even when no one else thought that I was going to make it here.”
Growing up “Vinsane”
Stauskas is part of a young generation of Canadian basketball players that are now flooding the league. The Mississauga, Ontario native grew up a Toronto Raptors fan and it’s no surprise that his favorite player was none other than a former face of that franchise.
“I loved Vince Carter when he was there and I got a chance when I was young to actually meet him and play with him,” Stauskas said. “I think was like nine years old or something like that. That was a huge moment for me just because to me, he was like god and he couldn’t do any wrong.”
Carter played the first seven years of his career in Toronto. His high-flying exploits helped put basketball on the map in Canada, undeniably leaving a lasting impression on newcomers like Stauskas, Andrew Wiggins of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Tyler Ennis of the Phoenix Suns.
“To meet him and kind of see him play and be the face of the franchise was one of the things that motivated me to become an NBA player,” Stauskas said.
At Ann Arbor, Stauskas earned the nickname “Tube”. You might be wondering why.
“When I was at Michigan, one of the assistant coaches called me Tube because I have a lot of YouTube Videos,” Stauskas said. “He called me a YouTube sensation.”
Stauskas and his family have been chronicling some parts of his basketball journey online for the last three years now. The most popular video on his YouTube channel is one in which he hits 45 of 50 three-point attempts in the backyard of his Ontario home.
“Tube” might be the nickname he earned, but he also gave himself his own moniker when he was a kid. The nickname actually bring his journey to the NBA full circle.
“Funny thing is actually when I was growing up, I was a huge Jason Williams fan so I used to call myself White Chocolate back in the day,” Stauskas said.