It has been a trying week for the Sacramento Kings and first-round pick Ben McLemore. Luckily, the team and its prized rookie finished up on a strong note Friday.
The Kings, who entered the day as the only team at the Las Vegas Summer League without a win, wrapped up their five-game schedule with a 93-87 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
While the win was nice, it was surely more comforting for fans to see McLemore finally find a true rhythm on the court. McLemore started poorly and again seemed destined for a lackluster showing. But the third quarter belonged to the Kings rookie, who exploded for 19 points in the quarter en route to his summer league high of 27.
Things seemed to click for McLemore after he ripped home a pair of ferocious dunks, the second of which lit up the Vegas crowd. From that point on, McLemore seemed more sure of himself. The confidence was apparent, and McLemore looked to score nearly every time he touched the rock. He showed great skill with his jumper, both set and off the bounce, and converted despite the presence of Hawks defenders.
It was the glimpse of future production from McLemore that fans have been looking for, and it had to be a great takeaway for McLemore, who now leaves Las Vegas with some confidence as he prepares for training camp.
The other matchup worth watching was at the point guard position, where Hawks first-rounder Dennis Schroder went up against Kings second-round pick Ray McCallum. Schroder lived up to his defensive scouting report, pestering McCallum up and down the court. To McCallum’s credit, he did a great job of handling the pressure and creating enough space to set up his teammates.
McCallum finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points to go with 11 assists. His own offense was not on display, but McCallum proved against a terrific defender that he can orchestrate an offense and maintain his composure. He turned the ball over just twice against the Hawks.
Elsewhere, Kings guard David Lighty provided a lift off the bench. The former Ohio State product showed his defensive prowess earlier in the week, and Friday, he took to the offensive end. Lighty scored 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
Lighty joins C.J. Aiken — a lively, 6-foot-9 forward — as players who impressed in Las Vegas. With the Kings now in charge of the personnel on the NBDL’s Reno Bighorns, players like Lighty and Aiken may receive invites to training camp or Reno for a closer look.