Canadians Nik Stauskas and Sim Bhullar will play their first preseason games as rookies with the Sacramento Kings at Rogers Arena in Vancouver Canada on Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors.
Stauskas was drafted eighth overall by the Kings in June and comes into the NBA with a reputation as a dead-eye shooter from day one. At Summer League, Stauskas fired up 7.6 three-pointers per game and hit on 47.8 percent of them making him a player to watch.
The Kings stars DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay return, but the team let their 20 point per game point guard Isaiah Thomas go to the Suns in a sign and trade. This season it will be the veterans Darren Collision and Ramon Sessions guiding the club on the court and it’s possible the league will see a more disciplined team as a result.
Another King to keep a close watch on is sophomore Ben McLemore. The jump out of the gym wing had the typical rookie season in terms of playing time and results. The 2013 seventh overall draft pick needs to find his comfort zone and his shooting stroke. Tons of potential, McLemore will be competing with Stauskas for minutes and it’s hard to imagine how two players’ styles of play could be any more different.
The Raptors bring back 10 players from last season including the entire starting lineup. Newcomers Lou Williams and James Johnson are expected to feature prominently in the rotation once the regular season starts and these games offer them a chance to build some chemistry, but they won’t be the most interesting Raptors to watch in preseason.
The just turned 19-years-old Bruno Caboclo was a surprise 20th pick in the draft, however, at Summer League he looked like the typical NBA rookie and that’s a good thing. Athleticism, length and a decent shooting touch make him the Raptor to watch. How much has Caboclo progressed since we last saw him in July?
Greg Stiemsma likely has the 15th spot on the roster sewn up, but Will Cherry and Jordan Hamilton are there to push him. How much playing time the 15th, 16th and 17th guys President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri signed for the Raptors training camp roster get in these preseason games is a pretty good indication of which guy sticks around.
Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueira played center in the top Spanish league for the past two seasons and has the height, length and athleticism to be a shot swatting phenom – that’s if the rookie can adjust. Bebe is the kind of defensive center that has both Ujiri and Head Coach Dwane Casey’s attention and we might get some kind of indication about how ready he is to play at the NBA level during preseason.
The Kings also feature Canadian of Indian descent Sim Bhullar. Bhullar is a monster 7’5, but has struggled with his conditioning and may not be ready for the NBA just yet. He has a training camp invite because – well – he truly is a monster and you can’t teach that kind of size. If his conditioning has improved over the summer, Bhullar could be a nice surprise.