For the majority of his rookie season, former second-round pick Ray McCallum was buried on the bench in Sacramento behind Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez (before the latter was traded). He still managed to hop off the bench 19.4 minutes per game in 45 contests, while dropping 6.2 points and connecting on 37% of his shots from three. Though with limited minutes, McCallum wasn't able to truly show his polished shooting touch.
The 6-foot-3 guard made a few appearances with the Reno Bighorns this season and proved why he should be playing real minutes in the NBA. In seven games with Reno, McCallum scored 20.0 points, along with 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds. His 20.0 points per game came on percentages of 46% from the field and 39% from three. The Detroit Mercy University product -- a school with barely over 5,000 enrolled -- showed an adept shooting touch from everywhere on the floor. The ball glided off his fingers and ripped through the net as his hand landed in the cookie jar.
Seven appearances may not seem like a lot, but McCallum was able to play 250 minutes in the contests, averaging 35.7 per game. McCallum only racked up 897 minutes in 45 games with the Kings, meaning he would have matched his minute mark from the NBA in close to 30 games in the D-League. Not to mention, McCallum attempted 119 shots in his seven games with Reno. In those 45 games in the NBA, McCallum only shot the ball 300 times. McCallum was able to control a team and show off his shooting prowess in the D-League. His stint with the Reno Bighorns was small, but he showed promise in that short amount of time.
Enter the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League and McCallum had a lot of pressure to perform. With Isaiah Thomas signed to the Phoenix Suns and Greivis Vasquez traded mid-season, there are minutes to be allocated in Sacramento. McCallum looked as if he might be up to the task after all.
In his first game with the Summer Kings against the Spurs, McCallum looked rocky at times. He tallied 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting and missed two attempts from three. The Kings would wind up losing that game, which would be their only loss for the remainder of the Las Vegas Summer League.
After another lackluster performance in his second appearance, McCallum started to ball out in his third game against the D-League Select squad. The second year guard dropped 10 points and 12 assists, leading his team to victory. He performed moderately for the remainder of his time in Las Vegas, but had some big shoes to fill as he took the floor for the Las Vegas Summer League championship game against the Houston Rockets. His performance had been nothing spectacular to this point, he didn't separate himself from the crowd. This would all change when the clock started on Monday night.
McCallum was spectacular in the championship game and finally showed the poise and leadership he displayed during his short time in the D-League. Against the Rockets, McCallum dropped 29 points and nine rebounds, including scoring nine points in the final frame, including a streak of seven straight points. When the Kings were down and struggling, McCallum rose up and came through.
His performance to win the championship boosted his Las Vegas Summer League averages to 12.0 points, 4.1 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 27.7 minutes per game. His status on the Kings might have been a question mark before Las Vegas, but his performance turned that question mark into an exclamation point in the form of 29 points and nine rebounds.
If the Sacramento Kings had any questions about Ray McCallum before Summer League, he's definitely answered all of them with his play on the court. With Darren Collison looking to man the point in Sactown, McCallum should be etched in as the backup point guard. However, if he starts to heat up like he did against the Rockets, McCallum and Collison could find themselves entrenched in an interesting point guard battle. For now, McCallum has solidified himself as a player deserving of NBA minutes which look to be coming his way this season.