Nik Stauskas got his first action with his new team on Saturday night in his home country. It was the perfect stage to make a debut for the Portland Trail Blazers and begin a new chapter in his NBA career.
The result of the game was a 122-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors and Stauskas finished with five points, four rebounds in 16 minutes. It's the preseason, so no one will be over analyzing the performance, but it was a first look at what role the Canadian can play.
S A U C E pic.twitter.com/YQZdXTscDe- Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) September 29, 2018
Since being drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2014, Stauskas played for three teams in five seasons prior to joining the Trail Blazers in the off-season. Each situation he was traded to came with the promise of utilizing his skill set but ended in the disappointment of not being able to see the floor consistently enough to make an impact.
In the off-season, Stauskas was finally in control of his next destination and he chose to join the guard friendly system in Portland on a one-year $1.62 million dollar deal .
"This offence is just perfect for any guard who can dribble and shoot," Stauskas told NBA Canada. "I feel there's constant movement and the ball movement here is really good.
"For me looking at last year seeing the kind of impact that Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton (had)…the impact they had off the bench, that was really encouraging and ended up being one of the reasons why I chose Portland."
In his second season in Philadelphia, Stauskas played in 80 games and averaged 12.4 points and 3.1 assists per 36 minutes. It was closer to the production he had shown in college, which earned him Big Ten Player of the Year in his sophomore season.
The arrival of J.J. Redick saw his minutes slip and eventually led to his exit as he was added to a trade to the Brooklyn Nets that featured Jahlil Okafor. In Brooklyn, he showed signs of returning to the player that went in the lottery, but streaky shooting and questions about his defence kept him in and out of the rotation. A nagging ankle injury also plagued him throughout and he just never seemed to fit into the plans that the Nets had.
Portland provides a different opportunity, an offence Stauskas knows he can play in and contribute off the bench.
"With our offence, the way it works our guards are always really active," Stauskas continued. "Whether they're coming off pin downs or coming off dribble handoffs.
"For me, I always just try staying in attack mode whether that's scoring for myself or kicking out and distributing I always try to be aggressive."
Stauskas spent a lot of time this summer working on things other than just shooting with his off-court friend and trainer David Tyndale. Tyndale, also a Mississauga native, has been working with Stauskas for a number of years, as well as Naz Mitrou-Long - who signed a two-way contract with the Utah Jazz in July.
"I always enjoy working with David. David was an elite point guard coming up, he understands the game very well.
"He gives me an opportunity to work on things other than just shooting. Shooting will always be something we continue to work on, but also the ball handling skills, the decision making, the footwork, those are all things we try to fine tune in the off-season so I've really enjoyed my time working with him."
Stauskas and the Trail Blazers have four remaining preseason games, one of which is against the Jazz and Mitrou-Long.
The preseason will serve as an opportunity for Stauskas to establish himself in the rotation, and get ready for the season ahead - a big one for the Canadian who knows he can get back to being a contributing piece to an NBA team.