Unlike so many others, Ray McCallum is departing from Las Vegas as a winner.
The Sacramento Kings topped the Houston Rockets, 77-68, in Monday night's Las Vegas Summer League championship, and the second-year point guard took home championship game MVP after pouring in 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
CBS Sports' Zach Harper confirmed the news:
Ray McCallum championship MVP http://t.co/JyPncHRnVh— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 22, 2014
McCallum's presence is likely part of the reason the Kings felt comfortable shipping burgeoning star Isaiah Thomas to the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade this summer.
A second-round pick out of the University of Detroit, McCallum was called into action for an injured Thomas at the end of last season. The rookie didn't disappoint, averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 assists per contest in 10 starts. There were some efficiency problems, but he protected the ball extremely well (just 1.9 turnovers in 42.2 minutes per contest over his last 12 games) and showed tremendous improvement from the start of the year.
While it's important not to jump to conclusions during Summer League, the steady floor general continued to highlight that progress.
In seven games, he averaged 12.0 points (on 50.0 percent shooting), 5.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest. The Detroit News' Vincent Goodwill and ESPN's Reggie Rankin were among many praising his play:
Would be very surprised if Ray McCallum doesn't have a long and solid NBA career. Quality player, plays under control, Sneaky athlete— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) July 22, 2014
Watching the NBA Summer League & Ray McCallum is showing how to play the point, run O, decisions, when to pass and score. Young PG's watch— Reggie Rankin (@ReggieRankin) July 22, 2014
McCallum will likely be starting the season in a backup role behind Darren Collison, but it's hard not to be intrigued by what the 23-year-old has shown over the last four months.
Throw in young backcourt mates Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas to go with 23-year-old star center DeMarcus Cousins, and, for the first time in nearly a decade, Vivek Ranadive and Pete D'Alessandro have the arrow pointing up in Sacramento.