- Measurables: 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, junior point guard from Detroit
- Key Stats: 18.7 points, 4.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals per game; shot 49 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range
- Projected: Late first/early second round
- Hickory High similarity score
Ray McCallum was a better prospect than his bigger name point guard counterparts in Michigan this year, Trey Burke and Keith Appling. That’s not hyperbole. McCallum was a high major recruit out of Detroit Country Day who chose to play at the University of Detroit for his dad. In fact, if I would’ve had a vote for Mr. Basketball during McCallum’s senior year, I would’ve voted for him over Appling. He was a polished, pure point guard, unselfishly looking to set up his teammates but also a phenomenal athlete who could go up and over bigs to finish and create his own shot. I’m convinced that McCallum is going to be the steal of this draft.
At Detroit, his passing numbers don’t stick out because he was simply asked to score too much. In his three years, the team had one other player who could reliably get his own shot and that player, Nick Minnerath, missed all of McCallum’s sophomore season with an injury. The Titans were offensively challenged, but McCallum led them to one tournament appearance and solid seasons in his other two years with the team. Some were surprised that he declared for the draft after his junior year, but as we’ve seen from workout reports, he belongs. He’s going to be a valuable addition to whichever team takes him.
Fits with the Pistons because …
There is a vocal contingent of fans that would be thrilled if the Pistons took in-state star Trey Burke with the eighth pick in the draft if Burke lasts that long. But Burke also has his detractors. If the Pistons don’t end up with Burke, they could still take a Michigan college star and they’d be getting one who has a more prototypical NBA guard build and athleticism. The knock on Burke is size, but at 6-foot-3 with long arms and great leaping ability, McCallum has no such concerns. He’d give the Pistons some additional size at the point guard spot, something that could come in handy if the plan to play Brandon Knight as primarily a shooting guard continues.
Production-wise, the thing I liked best about McCallum this year was his improvement despite being asked to do more for the Titans with less around him. After Detroit’s tourney appearance during McCallum’s sophomore season, Detroit lost its top two post players from that team, Eli Holman and LaMarcus Lowe, and its second leading scorer, guard Chase Simon (all three went on to play in professional leagues, so they were impact players at that level). Despite less depth, a younger roster and more attention from opposing defenses on McCallum, he still became a more efficient player, hitting a career-best 49 percent of his shots and posting a career-low in turnovers per game while playing a career-high in minutes per game.
McCallum is a natural point guard, he’s smart, he’s hard-working. That’s exactly the type of player the Pistons should be looking at in round two.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
The one major weakness in McCallum’s game is perimeter shooting. He made 32 percent of his threes last season, and that was a career-best. The Pistons need more perimeter threats to help give Greg Monroe more room to operate inside. McCallum’s shot has gotten better over the last three years, so that’s a positive. But potentially as a rookie second round pick, he won’t have immediate opportunities to play big minutes. If he’s able to work on that shot the rest of this summer, that will give him an even better shot at earning a role with a team early on.
From the Experts:
One thing that virtually all of these mid-major players have in common is high basketball IQ. McCallum is another player who thrives, in part, because he has such a superior feel for the game. He’s very quick, can be a defensive hawk and thinks pass first. He needs to improve as a shooter, but given the way he has matured this season, his game has very few holes. I think he’s the sleeper point guard of the draft, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see his name called in the first round.
McCallum has excellent ball-handling skills, plays the game at a nice pace and shows great poise. Doubling as his team’s primary ball-handler and top scoring option, he generally does a very good job taking care of the ball and making good decisions, as evidenced by the fact that he turns the ball over on only 12% of his used possessions this season, second among all point guards in our top 100 rankings.
As we’ve written before, McCallum is at his best when he can get out in transition, but he’s also done a better job this year of being more shifty off the dribble to create in the half-court, where he attacks the basket hard and finishes effectively at the rim, even through contact, as he’s connecting on an impressive 61% of his shots in the basket area.
The first thing of note was the high evaluation of a number of point guards. Even the projections of small-school studs at the position such as Ray McCallum, C.J. McCollum, and Nate Wolters compared very favorably against competitors at other positions. That result is partially due to the recent success point guards have achieved in the NBA. This can also be attributed to the fact that currently the data isn’t set up to separate point guards from swing players. Nevertheless, players like McCallum or Wolters could actually turn out to be cunning steals for teams if they fall into the second round (projected to go 41st and 39th, respectively).