The Kings completed their final minicamp practice leading up to today’s summer league opener against San Antonio, and coach Michael Malone had some advice for rookie Nik Stauskas.
Go to your hotel room, get some rest and prepare for the game.
Stauskas informed his coach he was already ahead of the curve and he’d planned out his evening.
Stauskas planned to overdose on reruns of the sitcom “Friends.”
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If the shooting guard from Michigan is anxious at all about his summer league debut, he’s great at masking it.
The Kings are happy to have several players from last year’s roster playing on the summer league squad to take the pressure off Stauskas, the eighth overall pick in last month’s NBA draft.
Stauskas is looking forward to summer league with the confidence the Kings described after drafting him.
“At the end of the day, basketball is basketball,” Stauskas said. “And whether you’re open from three in college or the NBA, a jump shot is a jump shot. I think I’ve been doing a good job of taking my shots when they’re there and trying to be aggressive. I’ve still got work to do, but I feel like things have been going well.”
The message from the coaching staff, starting with the first practice, to Stauskas was to try not to think or do too much on the court and to make plays in the flow of the game.
“I don’t want him hesitating,” Malone said. “If he’s open, I want him to shoot without any hesitation. He’s got a very high basketball IQ. He picks things up quickly, and I don’t sense that he’s rushing and out of control at all. I think he has a pretty good pace about him.”
The Kings hope Stauskas’ high basketball IQ and shooting pay off in the regular season. The team has needed more players who could make the right decisions on the court, which sometimes means making the simple play, as Stauskas showed he could do in college.
That also includes knowing how to blend his game with teammates, such as second-year guard Ben McLemore.
Both are shooting guards who were first-round draft picks. McLemore was the Kings’ top choice in 2013.
The Kings believe Stauskas can play with McLemore and that will be a part of the plan in summer league.
“For the most part, me and Ben have been on the court at the same time when we’ve been practicing and scrimmaging,” Stauskas said. “I feel like we have good chemistry so far. We’ve been looking for each other, and hopefully we can continue that moving forward.”
Malone agrees Stauskas and McLemore can complement each other.
“What I’ve seen is Ben and Nik can play together without any problems,” Malone said. “They both have a pretty good understanding of the game and they play well off of each other. When you have two guys who have the potential to shoot as well as they do, that’s going to pose problems for other teams.”
Malone was a fan of Stauskas’ confidence after the draft, and it hasn’t taken long for the rookie to showcase that trait by settling in on the court.
“There’s no nerves anymore. You have a better idea of what to expect,” Stauskas said. “My first day coming in here, you don’t know what the guys are going to be like, you don’t know what the tempo and intensity is going to be like. After having six, seven practices and a scrimmage (Wednesday) night, you just know what to expect moving forward.”
Stauskas said having Kings players from last season’s roster has aided his transition. It’s a benefit McLemore and Ray McCallum didn’t have last summer entering their rookie season.
Center DeMarcus Cousins also has practiced with the summer league team as he prepares for Team USA workouts.
“They’ve all been really good about everything,” Stauskas said. “They’ve all been real supportive, showing me the ropes and helping me out when I don’t understand things.”