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30Q: Can Ray McCallum make the rotation?

Ray McCallum shined in Summer League, but can he find a spot in the Kings' rotation this season?


Ray McCallum has a skillset that will likely translate into a decent NBA career, but whether or not it's enough to give him a spot in the Kings' rotation this season is unclear.

The immediate answer is no. In the point guard rotation, he is currently behind Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette (barely).

McCallum could jump ahead of Fredette if he continues the type of play he demonstrated in Summer League. From a statistical standpoint, McCallum has the potential to produce across-the-board efficiency, something Fredette doesn't bring to the table outside of scoring. So really, the only thing that may put Fredette ahead of McCallum at this point is NBA experience and better shooting.

Out of all the point guards, McCallum's game is most similar to Thomas'. It's difficult to compare McCallum's numbers in college to Thomas' numbers over the last two seasons, but for the sake of argument let's just compare McCallum's Summer League numbers to Thomas' numbers last season.

Thomas: 13.9 PPG/4.0 APG/2.0 RPG/0.8 SPG/44 FG%

McCallum: 12.6 PPG/4.0 APG/4.2 RPG/2.2 SPG/38 FG%

Again, take these comparisons with a grain of salt considering this is a sample size of 79 games played in the NBA v. five games played in Summer League, but there are some similarities between the two. McCallum is a better rebounder than Thomas, the two cancel each other out in terms of assists, but Thomas is a tad better shooter and has a higher level of playmaking abilities. McCallum is quite a bit taller (6'3'') than Thomas (5'9''), but height has never stopped the Hustlin' Husky.

The Kings are looking for ball movement and McCallum doesn't provide much more in terms of assists than Thomas, but he is leaps and bounds ahead of Fredette in that category, who is averaging just 1.5 assists after two seasons. So again, he is much more of a threat to push Fredette further out of the rotation than anything else.

This isn't to say that McCallum is a threat to Thomas, just that they have similar styles - and both share a history of being underestimated, which should lead to a healthy competition between the two.

Vasquez isn't a lock yet at the starting point guard position as he will battle it out with Thomas in training camp and preseason, but considering he was the key piece in the new ownerships' offseason moves and he averaged 9 assist per game in New Orleans last season, he is going to give Thomas a run for his money, and be comfortably ahead of McCallum in the rotation.

Aykis put together a fantastic breakdown on Vasquez on Friday.

Defense, most likely, will be the real X-factor in the point guard rotation battle. The Kings lost their best defender at the guard spot in Tyreke Evans this summer, and head coach Michael Malone is seeking players who are willing to buy in to the team defense concept. All these guys will likely do that, but one will ultimately rise to the top. Thomas and McCallum have the highest probability of being the best defenders at the point guard position considering they have the quickness that Vasquez and Fredette don't possess. McCallum's height advantage over Thomas also could factor in a bit. (You also can't ignore the fact that Vasquez is 6'6'' even though that benefits him more on the offensive end than the defensive end.)

The bottom line is the only way McCallum breaks through in the rotation is if either Vasquez or Thomas gets hurt and he earns some legitimate minutes to prove himself. Vaquez is coming off ankle surgery, so we will have to see if that becomes an issue as the season progresses.

McCallum is the son of a coach and has a strong grasp on the fundamentals of the game, that much was clear in Summer League, and that is why the Kings signed him to a three-year deal. He also is a bright kid with a tremendous amount of will and determination to win. In other words, he fits right in to the new "culture" that Malone is trying to instill in the Kings this season.

So it will be a wait and see. Right now, McCallum doesn't have a spot in the rotation and there is a chance he could find himself on the Reno Bighorns' roster at some point this season to fine-tune his game (his outside shot needs work and he needs to figure out how to compensate for a lack of high-level playmaking capabilities).

Regardless, it appears the Kings got a steal in the second round of the 2013 NBA draft.

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