Nik Stauskas makes NBA debut for Kings against Raptors in Vancouver

Nik Stauskas made his NBA debut Sunday against the Raptors in Vancouver. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nik Stauskas made his NBA debut Sunday against the Raptors in Vancouver. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

VANCOUVER ─ A round of applause greeted Nik Stauskas as he checked into his first NBA game, even if the box score identified Sunday's 99-94 loss to the Raptors as a road game for his Sacramento Kings.

Both teams opened their preseason schedule with a game in Vancouver and the crowd, which included Nik's parents Paul and Ruta and his brother Peter, cheered on the Canadian kid when he entered the game.

"My first game being back in Canada, that's definitely cool," Stauskas said before Sunday's game. "With all the Summer League games we had and with training camp now I feel pretty settled in."

The 20-year-old Mississauga native came off the bench towards the end of the first quarter. He stepped into his first shot in an NBA game and nailed a three-pointer. Stauskas played 25 minutes and finished the game with 12 points but also had four turnovers.

Kings head coach Michael Malone thinks it won't take long before Stauskas, the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft, adjusts to the professional game because of his skill set and on-court intelligence.

"Nik's got great range with his shot, he's got good size, [he's] a much better athlete than advertised but the thing I love about him more than anything is his IQ, how smart of a player he is," said Malone. "All I've been telling him this week in practice is to relax, be aggressive, play with confidence, and good things will happen."

Ben McLemore, Sacramento's first round pick in 2013, also plays shooting guard and is expected to battle with Stauskas for minutes. McLemore started Sunday's game and scored nine points on 3-of-7 shooting in just over 22 minutes of action.

"They could play together at times but it's also fun watching those guys compete and go after each other. I love competition, I think it's healthy," said Malone. "I really think Nik is going to help Ben become a better player and Ben's going to help Nik become a better player."

"This is professional basketball," said Stauskas. "Everyone's competing for minutes, everyone's competing for a job. When we're in practice we go at each other. It's all about competition."

And the competition will continue as the preseason rolls on. The Kings play the Raptors again Tuesday night in Sacramento before taking off for China, where they will play the Brooklyn Nets in two exhibition games.