Trail Blazers fans were caught off guard when Portland signed Nik Stauskas on Day 1 of NBA Free Agency. The 6’6 shooting guard sports a 7.0 points per game career scoring average, courtesy of tours with the Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets. He shot 40% from the three-point arc last season. Basketball-Reference will give you all those details and more.
Stats don’t tell the entire story, though. In case you missed the more colorful details of Stauskas’ career to date, here are eight little-known items to bring you up to speed on Portland’s newest player.
1.) He hit a 3-point shot over Vince Carter at 9 years old
At nine years old, Stauskas was invited onto the court to warm up with the team, according to a 2013 article in the Globe and Mail:
Stauskas and his family were at a Toronto Raptors open practice at the Air Canada Centre when he was plucked out of the crowd to shoot hoops with Carter and Morris Peterson.
”He hit a three-pointer on Vince Carter, so Vince tackled him to the ground and gave him a noogie,” dad Paul said, laughing. “We got pictures of all of it, it was great. That was the tipping point I think.”
VICE shared a photo of young Stauskas getting the side-eye from veteran Carter.
2.) He played 75 games for the Michigan Wolverines between 2012-2014
Over two seasons at Michigan, he averaged 14.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. His teammates included Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Caris LeVert.
The Wolverines appeared in the National Championship during his freshman year (he hit six three-point shots in that game). He declared for the 2014 NBA Draft after averaging 17.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game in his sophomore season.
3.) He almost got into a televised 3-point shootout with Steph Curry
After his freshman year at Michigan, Stauskas returned home to Mississauga and the backyard sport-court he and his brother Peter grew up playing on. One rainy day his father recorded him shooting as many 3-point shots as he could in a 5-minute period. He made 70 of 76, including 46 in a row.
Steph Curry saw the video and challenged him to a 3-point shooting contest.
Stauskas agreed and TSN aimed to televise it. The NCAA shut it down due to potential violations. Read the whole story here.
4.) His tenure with the Kings was kind of rocky
In a 2014 video produced by Grantland, Sacramento Owner Vivek Ranadivé is seen encouraging employees in the draft “war room” to select Nik Stauskas over Elfrid Payton (culminating in a “Nik Rocks!” cheer). Ranadivé later claimed that he was compelled into that display by the makers of the documentary.
Once arriving in Sacramento, Stauskas had a rough time fitting in with star DeMarcus Cousins. On a 2017 edition of the Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe described their relationship (transcribed by NBC Sports Philadelphia):
“DeMarcus Cousins ruined Nik Stauskas, or almost did,” Lowe said. “The stories about DeMarcus Cousins berating Nik Stauskas, threatening to fight Nik Stauskas on the plane when they were going to China for the preseason.
”He ruined Nik Stauskas, he ruined Sauce Castillo to the point where he just had to go somewhere else.”
After one year in Sacramento, where he averaged 4.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, Stauskas was sent to Philadelphia in a cap-clearing salary dump.
5.) “Sauce Castillo” is his most famous nickname
During his rookie season, due to a closed-captioning error in the local broadcast, Nik Stauskas became “Sauce Castillo”:
My closed captioning just referred to Nik Stauskas as "Sauce Castillo" and I will never be able to not call him this again— Andrew Unterberger (@AUgetoffmygold) March 25, 2015
Sauce Castillo, created in collaboration with professional basketball player Nik Stauskas, is the newest product in the Musashi Foods line. Sweet, smoky, and spicy, Sauce Castillo is highly versatile and is the perfect compliment to any meal that needs a little kick. Much like its namesake, this sauce is on fire!
6.) He has shown interest in becoming a media member after basketball
According to a 2017 article on the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) website, Stauskas has worked with the Canadian broadcast company TSN to cover All-Star games and interview NBPA Executive Director Michelle Roberts. Perhaps someday he will be the Canadian C.J. McCollum.
7.) He’s a spokesman for three Canadian-based health care organizations
The same NBPA article also reveals that Stauskas has acted as spokesman and ambassador for three Canadian-based health organizations, Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Ontario Lung Association.
Most recently, he sponsored a charity basketball tournament in Toronto last summer to raise money and awareness of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Before she died, his grandmother suffered from this rare and fatal lung disease for which there is no cure.
8.) He’s lost his shoe during a game and continued to play -- twice
At Michigan, Stauskas lost his shoe and tossed it into the stands during a game against Duke.
In a game against Toronto in 2017 Stauskas lost a shoe and continued to play for over a minute. That’s concentration!