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Ray McCallum’s play could leave Sacramento with tough choices

Jul 16, 2013, 11:35 AM EDT

Kings Mavericks Basketball AP

LAS VEGAS — The Sacramento Kings are set at the point guard spot.

They traded for Greivis Vasquez to become the pass-first point guard that gets DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore going. Behind him off the bench they can bring in score-first Isaiah Thomas to spark the second unit. That pair makes for a good one-two punch. Plus, Jimmer Fredette thinks he is a point guard, too.

Ray McCallum is playing well at Summer League and could throw a wrench into the entire plan.

McCallum, the Kings’ second round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, attacked the paint and had 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting Monday night in the Kings loss to Golden State. He had one assist (although part of that was guys didn’t finish his passes), he had six steals and he was clearly the guy in charge of the team. For the second game in a row, McCallum looked good.

“The thing about Ray is he is an extension of the coach on the floor,” Kings coach Mike Malone said after the loss. “Great feel for the game.”

McCallum is baby faced but he is the son of a coach — he played for his father in college at Detroit — who spent three years playing the college game. He shows a real basketball IQ and maturity on the court, he does the little things that are too often missing for rookies at Summer League. For example, when he has the ball and feels pressure out top he doesn’t turn his body to shield the ball and limit his driving options, he stays square and has the skills to know if the defender makes the play for the ball he can pull it back and go by them.

And go by them he did Monday — he attacked the paint ferociously. He was 5-of-5 in the restricted area on the night and got to the line a dozen times (including bouncing back from one hard foul that should have been a flagrant call).

“Tonight early on he got caught dribbling around a lot, kind of pounding the ball too much,” Malone said, he also personally chewed the entire team out at the half for their effort. “Second half he was much more efficient with making plays, getting to the rim and putting pressure on the defense. He’s a terrific athlete and he showed his athleticism by making plays to the rim and finishing them.”

“Honestly I was just trying to be a little more aggressive,” McCallum said of his effort in his second Summer League game. “I watched the film, and a lot of times coming off the ball screen I could have attacked a little bit more and that’s something I tried to do tonight. Get in the paint, not necessarily just looking for my shot but just getting in the paint and trying to look for one of my teammates.

“Tonight the lane opened up for me a lot so I was able to get in there and get to the hole and try to get to the line. That’s something that’s in my game and I was just trying to be aggressive.”

McCallum was impressive. You want to be careful reading too much into Summer League success but after a couple games this much is clear — he can play at the NBA level.

Which leaves the Kings with some potentially challenging choices.

Traditionally NBA teams only carry a couple point guards on the roster and the Kings have two good ones, plus Fredette who is more of a combo guard but likes the ball in his hands. Carrying those three and McCallum on the roster is not going to be easy.

“He’ll come in, there’s nothing set in stone,” Malone said of McCallum’s role. “You know it’s going to be a healthy competition having three point guards and Ray’s kind of shown his ability here so the cream will rise to the top.”

McCallum’s game is more like that of Thomas than Vasquez, meaning it is possible if the Kings like McCallum enough they could see what the trade market is for Thomas.

McCallum need not be worried about getting his NBA shot. When I mentioned the Kings backlog at the point to a front office person for another team his reaction was “if they don’t want this kid we’ll take him, he can play.”

Just a few games into Summer League, it is certainly clear McCallum can play. Which is a good problem for the Kings to have.

  1. 00maltliquor - Jul 16, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    This guy’s actually really good, I was surprised he fell to the 2nd round in this kind of draft. Probably because not many scouts were checking for Detroit Titans games?

  2. sourcesclosetothesituation - Jul 16, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Warriors coach Mike Malone huh?

  3. jcmeyer10 - Jul 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    To those in the know, could Jimmer play a 3 in a small lineup and get McCollum, Thomas and Jimmer on the court? Would that lineup play any D?

    • money2long - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      the thought of jimmer trying to guard lebron didn’t cross your mind

      • jcmeyer10 - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        Now that you mention it the thought of a Rhinocerous charging at a wounded baby gazelle seems like an appropriate image for that situation.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      There is playing small, and then there is putting a lineup of guys who are 6’3″, 5’9″ and 6’2″ on the court at the same time.

  4. Michael - Jul 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    “The thing about Ray is he is an extension of the coach on the floor,” Warriors** coach Mike Malone said after the loss. “Great feel for the game.”

    Probably should have read this over again. If you’re looking for an editor I’d be up to the task.

  5. Michael - Jul 16, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    It is nice to see the Kings grab another second round pick that has offered a lot of promise. Just too bad that they play the same position. Hopefully McLemore can step it up.

  6. birdsflynorth206 - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    This shouldn’t be a surprise, he was a mcdonalds all-American who passed up schools like Arizona, UCLA and Florida to play for his father. I am loving what the new ownership is doing.

  7. sackings916 - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Jimmer can’t guard a fly. He’s a great person, but I don’t believe he’ll ever be a great player in this league. He would be a good role player on a team like Indiana or Chicago who already play great defense and need a scorer to come off the bench.

  8. spursareold - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Vasquez is a combo guard at best, and Jimmer is a slow small SG. They really only have Thomas and McCallum to initiate their offense.

    • uncledrew22 - Jul 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      I wouldn’t consider Vasquez a combo guard. I mean it’s not like he will explode for 35 pts on any given night. It could happen, but not likely.

      • spursareold - Jul 16, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        Combo guard, at a minmum, just means you can score some, but really aren’t good enough for the team to give you the keys to the offense. I’ve watched Vasquez since the 2011 playoffs with Memphis, and the last two years in N.O., and he ain’t no PG.

  9. marxobama - Jul 16, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Mike Malone of the Warriors. Maybe Keith Smart is secretly coaching the Heat!!!
    Get the facts straight before you screw up!

  10. sackings916 - Jul 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    We need to trade away Jimmer and sign this kid. Jimmer is a great guy but lets be honest he can’t guard a fly. We need to get better defensively end of story!

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