There are many things about the internet and especially the basketball community that has grown from said internet that make being a basketball fan in this era a favorable experience. The interaction between Tom Ziller and Bethlehem Shoals and the product that comes from this interaction should be at the top of everyone’s enjoyment of the current NBA.
Since both have become firmly entrenched together at FanHouse over the last eight months or so, they have come up with some truly great work. Now, they have a daily collaborative piece called “The Works” and it’s something you should check out first thing to start your day.
In today’s version, Ziller explores the usage of international basketball as a hoops laboratory during the summer with respect to Omri as his initial muse:
Casspi has been a simply explosive scorer at the unfamiliar power forward position. In Saturday’s win over the very good Montenegro, Casspi scored 30 points in 33 minutes on an array of deep shots and drives. The Kings thought they were drafting a potential poor man’s Hedo Turkoglu. During Casspi’s rookie season, he looked like he’d instead be a bigger Bobby Jackson. Playing for Israel? He looks like the second coming of Peja Stojakovic. If the Kings are paying attention, they will say new and exciting ways to feature the Israeli in the Evans-led offense next season.
No matter how good Omri Casspi ends up being in the NBA, we can be sure that experiences like this for young, developing players are nothing but good. Yes, there is a chance for injury and I’m pretty sure I even said on this space not too long ago that it was probably for the best Tyreke Evans wasn’t on Team USA this summer because of injury reasons. But with guys like Omri who are trying to establish themselves in so many different facets of the basketball world, leading his country is nothing but a good, healthy, growing experience.
Omri is THE GUY in the country of Israel when it comes to basketball. And while Israeli basketball is on the rise and has been for quite some time now, they’re still not close to being one of the teams at the FIBA adult’s table for dinner. With Omri cutting his teeth in the leadership role as Noam pointed out yesterday, it can take him and the Kings down one of two paths.
1) The cultivation of Omri Casspi’s leadership skills on the court could most certainly help the Kings out over his career in Sacramento. I think we can all see that Tyreke Evans isn’t the most vocal person on the court. And while I think he’s shown enough leadership flashes to be that vocal leader and a leader by example in the future, the Kings need someone to be there in crunch time and get everybody on the same page. I think Omri – especially with what he’s shown so far in Israel’s run – can be that player.
He’s one of the best shooters and probably one of the best all-around players on the Kings roster with plenty of room for growth and progress. Casspi will be on the floor at the end of games if he earns it like the majority of us think he can and will. Having him as the vocal leader during crunch time and showing more of a pedigree for this type of role with his time this summer could be the extra boost the Kings need in an area they struggled with so mightily last season – fourth quarter execution. It doesn’t force Tyreke into a role he’s not ready for and the Kings get more production and leadership throughout the team at different points in the game no matter who is in.
2) Omri gets too big for his proverbial leadership britches from this experience and ends up demanding the ball and big shots late in the game. His teammates grow tired of a young player without having proven enough on the NBA stage and he begins to alienate other Kings on the roster. I’m not sure it would be quite the Andres Nocioni style of wanting more of an important role throughout the team but it could definitely grow to be an issue if this type of situation isn’t handled with care by the front office, coaching staff and veterans on the team.
I think it’s much more likely to be option 1 rather than option 2 because this seems like a good group of young players with more than enough leadership throughout the organization to get its guys in proper order of rank and file. Omri doesn’t seem like much of a hot head even though there were times in which he showed some pouting and confrontational actions with the team last season. But instead of just assuming he’s a malcontent, I think it’s clear he’s just a very competitive athlete with a lot of confidence and ability to back it up.
Ziller is correct when he says “International basketball is the window to the essence of a player’s potential.” When you have a guy like Omri who is so young and yet filled with so much potential, utilizing this stage for growth is so much more important than watching him fumble or vault through some random summer league schedule.
Good to see Omri gets this chance to see where he could be headed for the Kings.