Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum build friendship
Joe Montana to Jerry Rice, chips and salsa and the Blues Brothers are a few of the most well known power tandems. Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum want to join the list, but casual fans must first learn to tell them apart.
“Well everybody thinks he’s Ben and I’m Ray, so I think it’s our last names — Ben and Ray, McLemore and McCallum?” Ben McLemore joked with Cowbell Kingdom.
Surprisingly, McLemore and McCallum aren’t sponsors for McDonald’s (but McCallum was a high school McDonald’s All-American.) Ray grew up in Michigan, while Ben bounced around the south as a teenager. Both were selected by the Sacramento Kings in the 2013 NBA draft, yet their friendship was already established by then.
“It’s wonderful man,” McLemore reflected. “Me and Ray have been cool since before we got drafted, so it’s great to see both of us out there on the floor playing together.”
“We both got drafted together,” McCallum told Cowbell Kingdom. “We were rookies. Got to spend some time together getting experience on the court last year, and being so close with each other off the court, I think it helps our friendship, our bond on the court. Just knowing where he likes to get the ball, how he likes to play, and at the same we’re having fun.”
For the second straight season, McLemore and McCallum will finish the schedule as starters. Ben has started every match this year, while Ray earned his promotion on February 20, George Karl’s first game as head coach.
Since then, McLemore has averaged 12.5 points, two assists and 1.2 steals in 31.3 minutes, as McCallum has produced 11 points, 4.3 assists and one steal in 30 minutes a night.
Nevertheless, buddy ball isn’t all what it seems. In the 29 games as a starter this season, McCallum has assisted McLemore 24 times. Ben has assisted Ray only four times, but the point guard harbors no hard feelings towards the wing.
“Ben’s my man,” McCallum emphasized. “That’s my guy. It’s a lot of fun. Last year, we got the opportunity to do the same thing at the end of the season. Get out there on the court with him. We have good chemistry out there. He’s a great player, and he’s making me better just trying to find him. Play off him, get him easy shots and dunks, so it’s a lot of fun being out there with him.”
The pair have been inconsistent at times, but as the fourth-youngest starting backcourt in the league, mistakes come with the territory. It’s worth noting despite the occasional poor shot or defensive lapse, both players have averaged 1.8 turnovers since the All-Star break, which is impressive for a club ranking 27th as a team with 15.7 per game.
McLemore and McCallum are committed to improving themselves, but the end of the season can’t come soon enough. In a Kings campaign filled with drama and instability, a little time together with friends off the job will be beneficial.
“Sometimes, we got to get away from it, just enjoy ourselves, enjoy our free time,” McLemore noted. “Just hanging out.”
A lot of that time will be spent with Ray. Both officially under contract for another year, McLemore and McCallum have no shortage of offseason activities, whether it’s hooping or go kart racing.
“We both like pizza,” McLemore stated. “We both wear the same size shoes. We both play basketball. I don’t know too many things that we have in common but like I said, we both are good friends and we like to do almost the same things and we’re just enjoying this time. Our second year was crazy and it’s gone by so fast. We’re happy to be out there on the court together.”
So are the Kings, as long as the pair continue to push each other in practice and the main stage. McLemore and McCallum can guarantee there’ll be no drama on their side of the locker room.