Auburn Hills — As the Pistons entered the first day of training camp, there were few position battles to discuss.
All five starters return, and with the additions in free agency plus the reserves from last season, the only real question is the third point guard.
For Ray McCallum Jr., who played at Detroit Country Day and Detroit Mercy, it’s an opportunity.
“You look at it and it’s a great opportunity to come back home and have Detroit across my jersey again,” McCallum said. “Last year was a crazy learning experience for me, but going through all that is helping me prepare for this opportunity I have in front of me.
“I’m looking to take full advantage of it.”
McCallum realizes being a journeyman at age 25 is not conducive to sticking in the NBA long-term. After being drafted by the Kings in the second round in 2013, he had two good seasons before being traded to the Spurs in July of 2015.
McCallum played 31 games with the Spurs last season and nine games with their D-League affiliate in Austin. Later, he signed two 10-day contracts with the Grizzlies, totaling 10 games.
In July, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Pistons, hoping to find a landing spot and a chance to make an impact.
At media day Monday, he donned the No. 36 jersey — the same number worn by Rasheed Wallace.
“No. 36 was my draft pick number and from the point I was waived from San Antonio, picked up and signed by Memphis and then signing with Detroit in July, that was three teams in six months,” McCallum said. “When I came up with idea and they said, ‘Aww Sheed,’ I remembered.
“But they said Rasheed’s favorite number was 30. He didn’t end his career with 36, so I said that’s OK.”
Height vs. experience
McCallum is expected to contend with Lorenzo Brown for the final spot.
Brown, at 6-foot-5, has a height advantage, but the 6-3 McCallum’s extended experience (46 starts, 154 games) could be the difference.
“The last couple years I’ve been doing this, I really never had a clue (if I was in contention),” said Brown, who played with the Pistons last season and through Summer League. “It’s more important to me because I’ve been (missing out) and I feel like this is the year for me. Ray has been through the same thing I’ve been through.”
Remember the Spurs
McCallum plans to use his time with the Spurs to his advantage.
While he didn’t play as much as he would have liked, he did play with potential Hall of Fame talent in the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili and Tony Parker, along with coach Gregg Popovich.
“Just being around them taught me how to be consistent every day, just come in and compete and work hard every day,” McCallum said. “Bring energy on the defensive end and offensively, just be a true point guard, be aggressive and try to run the team. If I can do that on a consistent basis, I’ll be fine.”