There are a lot of positives about Kings point guard Ray McCallum - the Summer League performance, the basketball IQ, the ability to not turn the ball over. His well-rounded, smart game will likely result in a long NBA career. The long-term question is if the 2013 second-round pick eventually becomes a starter in the league or continues to be a reliable role player/backup guard. One of the short-term questions is if he can be more of a vocal leader on the floor, something McCallum acknowledges he is working on and thinks he is making progress in.
"I did feel like in Summer League that I was a lot more vocal this summer than I was during the season or last Summer League, and that's something I will continue to carry on during this season," McCallum told Sactown Royalty in a recent interview.
He certainly seemed right at home in that category in July's Summer League championship game, in which he led the team to a victory scoring 29 points on 9-15 shooting, earning him the MVP of the game award. McCallum was vocal and more animated than we have ever seen him as a pro in that title game.
"The more that you are out there, the more time you get and the more that your teammates see what kind of player you are, I think they build more of a trust with you. And then as a point guard, it's even easier to be more vocal and get guys in the right places," McCallum said.
Being more vocal is something one of McCallum's former teammates who shared the backcourt with him last season said he needs to work on. Isaiah Thomas, who is now a member of the Phoenix Suns, told Sactown Royalty in his sit-down interview with us last month, "The thing he [McCallum] needs to work on is being able to direct guys out there ... he doesn't voice himself enough out there on the floor because you have got to be the coach, you basically have to be the second coach out there."
Head coach Michael Malone acknowledged McCallum's progress in The Sacramento Bee:
"He's a lot more vocal than he was last summer, and that's something I keep imploring him to be - be vocal, be a leader, run your team and be a coach on the floor," Malone told Jason Jones.
McCallum averaged 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4.1 assists in Summer League. The 6'3'' guard has been working out in California since Summer League ended but was in his old stomping grounds on Friday when he gave away 400 backpacks filled with school supplies to members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. He said he plans to do similar events in Sacramento next year.
Outside of helping his community and aiming to be more outspoken on the floor with his teammates, McCallum has been working on the pick and roll, his jump shot, finishing around the rim and shooting floaters. He will back up recently acquired Darren Collison going into next season. He considers Collison to be a "great player" and thinks the team can accomplish the goal of the front office and coaching staff to push the pace of the offense more.
"We have a lot of athletic players on our team and a lot of guys who can score. I know our coaches want to play a lot faster this year and try and get up and down a little bit more ... as a whole group, everyone's got to buy in and I think that's something that we can definitely do this year," McCallum said.
Buying in may be a little easier this season as compared to last since things will probably be somewhat more settled with the roster. That, combined with a whole season of experience under his belt, may work in McCallum's favor.
"Last year it was new, new coaches, we had a lot of new things going on; a new system. I think it's just a matter of guys getting chemistry down and the more you are out there playing with each other, we can get a better understanding of everyone's game and I think this year we will have a lot better understanding of what's going on," McCallum said. "We want to win and that's something that this summer it was big for us. Even though it was just Summer League, we were going out there and competing and trying to show that the Sacramento Kings, you know, this is what we want to do, we want to be known as a winner and I think we've got a good team coming into this year and we're expecting to do big things."
As for that long-term question of being a starter in the NBA - it isn't something that McCallum is concerned with.
"There are a lot of things in the NBA that you just can't control. You can just control trying to be the best player and teammate that you can be. Coming into this season, my focus is to just come in, compete every day, do what's best for the team and if I get my opportunity go in there and try to make the most of it," McCallum said.