Charlotte Hornets: Ray McCallum Can Make the Backup Point Guard Role His Own

Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to guard Ray McCallum (3) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to guard Ray McCallum (3) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Charlotte Hornets’ backup point guard issues, newly signed Ray McCallum could make the role his own this season.

The Charlotte Hornets recently decided to add some point guard depth to their roster when they signed Ray McCallum from the NBA D-League to a 10-day contract. It might only be a short-term deal but the 25-year old has the chance to make an impact with his new team. With Ramon Sessions not quite living up to expectations so far this season, McCallum could turn into a long-term option.

Ray isn’t just some average D-League player that Charlotte called up to take up a spot on the bench. He is the #2 ranked player in the NBA’s Developmental League this season. With this addition, McCallum has the opportunity to prove himself for the Hornets and potentially extend his stay longer than his original 10-day deal.

If he can play well enough, the team will likely sign him to a second 10-day contract before officially committing to him for the remainder of the season. McCallum and the Hornets are in an interesting spot as the team now has four point guards on their current roster. Charlotte won’t likely keep all four as most teams, and Steve Clifford coached teams specifically, only keep three.

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Kemba Walker isn’t going anywhere so either Ramon Sessions or Brian Roberts is on the way out. Potentially. It isn’t clear what direction the team will go in but if Ray plays well, if he gets minutes at all, he could make their decision a lot easier. It’s obvious that Sessions isn’t doing enough off the bench so far this season and an upgrade at backup point guard is one of the biggest needs for the Hornets.

During his last stint in the NBA, McCallum averaged 6.9 points per game and 2.7 assists per game with the Memphis Grizzlies. Those numbers weren’t spectacular but they are comparable to that of Ramon Sessions this season. Charlotte’s current backup point guard is only averaging 6.2 PPG and 2.6 APG.

Looking at McCallum this year, he is playing the best ball of his career in the D-League with the Grand Rapids Drive. In 30 games, Ray is averaging 18.2 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, and 6.0 rebounds per game. Just comparing McCallum’s numbers to Sessions’ stats this year, it is clear that the newly acquired guard from the University of Detroit Mercy has the potential to be an upgrade for Charlotte.

Ray isn’t a stranger to the NBA as he has played three seasons with multiple teams like the Sacramento Kings, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Griz. With the Kings and the Grizzlies, McCallum played as the backup point guard. He put up decent numbers but now with more experience under his belt, there is a chance that he’s developed enough to become a consistent player off of a successful team’s bench.

Here’s a look at the two players’ statistics this season:

McCallum – 18.2 PPG, 7.5 APG, 6.0 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 2.9 TOV, 45% FG/ 32.1% 3P/ 78.7% FT

Sessions – 6.2 PPG, 2.6 APG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.9 TOV, 38% FG/ 33.9% 3P/ 77.1% FT

Clearly, their numbers are vastly different because of their massive differential in minutes but looking at their per 36 minutes stats shows that McCallum has the upper hand in terms of production.

McCallum – 17.3 PPG, 7.1 APG, 5.7 RPG (per 36)

Sessions – 13.8 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.3 RPG (per 36)

The NBA’s style and speed are vastly different than that of the D-League but the Hornets’ organization felt like Ray was good enough and ready to get another shot at the highest level. Hopefully, McCallum gets some playing time during his 10-day contract so that we can see if he has the ability to run Charlotte’s second unit.

Just looking at his highlights, McCallum clearly has NBA-level talent. Now it will be about taking advantage of his opportunity and proving that he has what it takes to make the Hornets’ roster. With Sessions’ poor play this year and many fans/experts calling for an upgrade, Ray could be the guy to take that role. Many expected help to come in the form of a trade but it would be cheaper and maybe better for it to come from the D-League and McCallum.

Charlotte definitely needs a better backup point guard. Sessions isn’t the answer and neither is Roberts. The Hornets aren’t going to find a better prospect or player unless they make a trade. This is the safest route but maybe the best way to find a quality backup. At worst, he becomes a third string point guard but I think they may be looking for more out of McCallum.

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We’ll have to wait and see how the situation plays out for the Charlotte Hornets and McCallum over the next few weeks. The upcoming games for the team will be interesting because depending on how much he plays, it should give us a good idea of what they want to do with Ray. With his scoring and playmaking ability, I think he has a good chance of backing up Kemba for the rest of the season.