Alum McCallum Lifts Kings to Samsung NBA Summer League Crown
Over the 11-day NBA Summer League, point guard after point guard had jumped into the Las Vegas spotlight before Ray McCallum -- the same point guards that had heard their names called before his on Draft night 2013. From CJ McCollum to Shane Larkin to Isaiah Canaan, they'd all gotten their time to shine.
But after 67 games packed into two UNLV gyms, McCallum was the last man standing. The 23-year-old Kings point guard was steady through their first six games before exploding for 29 points on 9-for-15 shooting in Monday's 77-68 tournament championship win over the Houston Rockets.
McCallum's rise to Summer League title game MVP mirrored his overall rise through the basketball ranks. He passed on schools like Arizona and UCLA to play for his father at Detroit-Mercy. He went No. 36 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and played his first three pro games in the NBA D-League.
For at least this one 11-day stretch, however, he vaulted himself ahead of the point guards in his class.
"It means a lot," McCallum said of his Summer League hardware. We've been working hard all summer trying to put in a lot of hard work for opportunities like this. And one thing I've learned about the NBA [is] once you get an opportunity, try to make the most of it."
Here are the highlights of the final day in Las Vegas:
Though McCallum is the son of a coach and plays like it, the Kings eased him into the transition from the Horizon League to the NBA by letting him loose with their affiliate in Reno, where he averaged 20.0 points and 4.3 assists in seven games. But package his breakout final three weeks of the NBA season with his Summer League run, and it's clear he's ready to contribute. His knowledge of time and score and when to look for his own shot versus his teammates' stood out, and he calmly made winning plays down the stretch:
Canaan, picked two spots ahead of McCallum in the loaded 2013 point guard class, ran out of steam after making big play after big play during the Rockets' tournament run. But Houston has to be confident that their 2013 second-rounder is ready for minutes off the bench as another sharpshooting, playmaking weapon.
Eighteen months ago, James was playing at little-known NAIA school Northwood University (Fla.). Even this past season, he played just 17 minutes per game for the NBA D-League's Reno Bighorns. So his performance in Vegas, which culminated in his 12-point effort in the title game, was eye-opening. He's more than just a dunker (and an incredible one at that); he made a nice audition as a spark plug off the bench.
McCallum's clutch running three was the game's signature moment. But even before the game, the Kings and Rockets staged a show for the fans, turning layup lines into a dunk contest that featured NBA D-League alums Ra'shad James (the 2014 dunk contest runner-up), Quincy Acy, Jared Cunningham, Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington.
Feels great to be summer league champs!!! Thanks for all the support Kings fans! We worked hard to bring home a championship!! #KingsAllDay— Ray McCallum (@RayMac3) July 22, 2014
Had a couple dreams now they coming true!— Ra'shad James (@RashadJames_) July 22, 2014