Kings' McCallum making a play for minutes at point
10/10/2013 12:00 AM
10/12/2013 3:10 PM
The competition for minutes at point guard is in all likelihood still a two-man race between Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez.
But Kings coaches and management have remained pleased with the progress of the point guard Sacramento picked in the second round of June's NBA draft, Ray McCallum.
Coach Michael Malone maintains McCallum is having one of the better showings in training camp, and his teammates have noticed, too.
McCallum had seven points, five assists, two steals and just one turnover in 18 minutes in the Kings' loss Monday at Golden State in the preseason opener.
If McCallum keeps up the solid play, it will be hard to not mention him when discussing the Kings' point-guard situation.
"I think that's going to be a big steal for us," Vasquez said of having McCallum. "Ray's going to be a player. I was joking with coach, saying we just can't feel comfortable around (McCallum) because he might jump somebody's spot."
McCallum (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) gives the Kings a combination of size and athleticism the team hasn't had at point guard in some time.
The Kings have encouraged McCallum to be more vocal on the floor and stay aggressive on both ends of the court.
"One thing I have to praise coach Malone for is giving me an opportunity to go out there and play my game," McCallum said. "He's not holding me back at all. He's letting me go out there and play free, and that's helping me play with a lot of confidence. I feel like my teammates have supported me, and the coaching staff is supporting me to go out there and be in attack mode at all times."
Vasquez will sit out tonight's preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas, meaning McCallum figures to have another opportunity to show what he can do in extended minutes.
Malone said McCallum is certainly in the mix for playing time in the regular season.
"There's no doubt," Malone said. "I think everybody that watched him play in summer league was impressed around the NBA. What he did in training camp and how he handled himself in his first preseason game as an NBA player was impressive. If he continues to work, get better and improve, he'll have an opportunity to earn some minutes this year."
McCallum has already shown he is a diligent student of the game. He stays on the court for extra work and spends time with assistant coach and director of player development Dee Brown going over video of his play.
McCallum is also big on quizzing his teammates.
"Ray is solid in all areas," Thomas said. "He's not going to do too much.
"He's going to give you a little bit of scoring, get others involved and just play hard. And that's what we need out of him. He's a solid point guard, just learning, not just from me, but from the coaches, from Greivis, from everybody."
McCallum said he was "antsy" to get into Monday's game and looks forward to another chance to impress tonight.
He understands he has a lot to learn but plans to stay assertive and compete.
"Like I said from Day One, being a rookie, it's about bringing energy, and doing things to try and help this team win," McCallum said. "One of the areas this team struggled in last year was defense. I try to bring it on the defensive end and try to push it on offense and be aggressive and play confident. Just go out there and try and play my game."
Injury updates – Vasquez and Carl Landry (strained quad) will not play tonight.
Vasquez is looking to play "limited minutes" Monday when the Kings host the Los Angeles Clippers.
"We'll wait to see how severe (Landry's strain) is, and if he's going to be out, how long," Malone said. "But obviously we're hoping to have him back sooner rather than later."
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
In the Kings' game tonight against the Lakers:
1. Ball security: The Kings committed 26 turnovers in Monday's preseason opener at Golden State. That many mistakes will negate any progress made on defense.
2. More easy points: The Kings had only eight fast-break points against the Warriors. For a team that hasn't always shot well from the field, transition points are a necessity.
3. Consistent defense: Coach Michael Malone would love to hold teams to 20 or fewer points in the fourth quarter. The Kings allowed 32 fourth-quarter points Monday.
Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.
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