The championship game of the 2014 NBA Las Vegas Summer League took place on Monday at the Thomas and Mack Center, where the Sacramento Kings defeated the Houston Rockets 77-68.
While the game itself was an interesting end to the tournament, there were several players like Sacramento’s Ray McCallum and Houston’s Donatas Motiejunas who stood out as the event’s biggest winners.
Here is a breakdown of the two breakout stars from the Summer League championship game.
Ray McCallum, PG, Sacramento Kings
The championship MVP award went to McCallum after the guard stole the show with 29 points and nine rebounds in the final. His play on Monday was the reason the Kings walked away with the tournament win.
McCallum’s success wasn’t just limited to the final game, though, as he managed to average 12 points, five rebounds and 4.1 assists in just under 28 minutes per game this summer. As a second-round pick out of Detroit College (36th overall), the second-year player is beginning to make his mark on the NBA.
When asked about what being MVP means, McCallum told Zach Harper of CBS Sports what he did to earn the award:
Fortunately, God blessed me to walk away with the MVP trophy. It means a lot, it's something I'll definitely keep forever. I saw my team struggling a little bit down the stretch. I knew I had to make some big plays, score the ball, just make the right basketball play...just find a way to win, I'm a winner.
The problem for McCallum during his rookie season was the depth the Kings already had in the backcourt. He only totaled 19.9 minutes per game but still managed to rack up 6.2 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 rebounds.
While starting point guard Darren Collison is a very talented player, McCallum showcased that he has improved his rebounding and has worked on his shooting accuracy in the offseason. The result of his work was a Summer League championship for Sacramento and an MVP award for him.
Kings fans should expect this performance to earn McCallum some extra playing time next season, as he continues to embrace the role as a second-string player behind Collison and begins to thrive coming off the bench.
Donatas Motiejunas, C, Houston Rockets
The biggest winner of the Summer League championship game—and the entire tournament—for the Houston Rockets was Lithuanian center Motiejunas.
The third-year player showcased why the franchise loves his talent so much by amassing 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in the 26:53 he played in Monday's matchup against the Kings. While he wasn’t able to rack up another 10 rebounds, Motiejunas helped bring Houston to the title game with three consecutive double-double performances.
Adam Wexler of CSN Houston talked about Motiejunas’ elite play and the honor it earned:
In 7 Vegas SL gms, @DonatasMot avg'g 16.9 pts, 8.4 rebs, 62% FG. Had 3rd consec. dbl-dbl in today's semifinal win. Title game Mon vs Sac— AdamWexlerCSN (@awexler) July 21, 2014
With improved shooting accuracy from the field and the free-throw line (he managed at least 15 points in each of his last six games), Motiejunas is starting to gain the elite offensive form that many scouts believed he could develop.
At just 23 years old, Motiejunas is still learning the NBA game on the fly. Over his first two seasons in the NBA, he only averaged 5.6 points and three rebounds per game, but his performance in Las Vegas should have the coaching staff eager to put him on the court more often.
Dwight Howard is the unquestioned center for Houston, and fellow third-year player Terrence Jones will still hold the starting role at power forward, but the skill and improvements Motiejunas showed during the Summer League will help him increase his minutes in 2014-15.
*Stats via NBA.com.