Even with him winning the highly coveted Summer League Finals MVP trophy, I think many of us here in Sacramento think of Ray McCallum as our little secret. He spent most of last year riding the bench of playing down in Reno, and really did nothing until we cut Jimmer and Isaiah went down with an injury. It was then that we saw glimpses of what could be a very good player in the future. He can handle the ball, take it inside, and gather assists without giving up too many turnovers. Due to the Sacramento Kings lack of depth at the PG, he will get his chance to go right into the middle of the action and prove that he has a place in the NBA.
When I think of the kind of sophomore year Ray can have I think back to Kevin Martin. Though Kevin was a different type of player, he had a similar rookie year, though he had even less opportunity than Ray did. It wasn't until a couple months into his sophomore season that he really started to shine. He went on to be runner up for Most Improved Player two years in a row, (which when you think about it is incredible in it's own right). Ray will get his chances and I fully expect him to make the best out of them.
While the Isaiah trade will never be popular around here, the Kings do have two true point guards which should mean we have 48 minutes of solid point guard play. Are either of them stars? No, but it does not mean we should spend the next few years in a depressive state. If Ray can be an effective contributor off the bench it would be huge for the team. Last year, (and seemingly every year before it), when we went to the bench the game went downhill. Ray has shown us no reason to believe he would be a slouch off the bench. Guys like Derrick Williams, Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi, and Nick Stauskas could benefit greatly playing with Ray if they can learn to communicate with him off the ball. He has shown an ability to thread the needle with scary precision. Derrick and JT especially could benefit with a little tweaking. The Kings have let it be known that they want a pass first point guard and now we have two of them to work with.
Outside of Ray's promising playmaking, he has shown glimpses of a great ability to get to the basket. He made rookie mistakes while doing so, which many of our seasoned veterans still do, but he has also gotten to the hole with finesse and speed when he wanted to. With a little more time on the court and some experience this could be his biggest strength as a player in a few years. A passing point guard who can also get where he wants to on the court is a nightmare for other teams. It will be interesting to see how Ray can do with a consistent role in the rotation.
I am not trying to make Ray seem like the next Chris Paul (he's not), but I think he could actually be the key on how we view the departure of Isaiah in a few years. Ray has shown himself to be highly skilled. His defense can use some work, but he does try hard on that end, and Michael Malone even called him one of the only defensive-minded players on the team last year. He'll also need to become more consistent as a shooter, as he made just 37.7% of his shots last season (although with a very respectable 37.3% from three).
I see big things from Ray in the future. Even if he takes a couple of years to develop, if he becomes that true point guard we wanted in our offense, and the team can improve with him, it may be one of those switch-offs that does not seem nearly as bad when all is said and done. Swaggy Ray is here to stay!