2014-15 Season in Review: Omri Casspi
Omri Casspi was an afterthought to the 2014 list of summer additions for the Sacramento Kings. After a solid season in Houston, Casspi was dealt to the Pelicans where he was quickly waived, despite sporting a league minimum salary. He was on the cusp of being out of the NBA at 26-years-old after a very promising start.
As the Kings sifted through one coach after another, Casspi found a way to fit in, regardless of the situation. Under Malone, he was a slasher. A nagging knee injury robbed him of his explosiveness and plenty of games during the 28-game Tyrone Corbin era, but Casspi found new life under George Karl.
Casspi would love a return to Sacramento, but he will likely have to wait until the Kings shake out most of their roster before he gets a solid commitment. When free agency begins, Casspi is unrestricted and eligible to sign with all 30 teams.
Casspi was a completely different player for Sacramento in his second tour of duty. At 6-foot-9, 225-pounds, he has the size to play either forward position and the versatility to play the two as well. He can rebound, handle the ball and shoot the 3-ball.
As the season continued to spin out of control, Casspi and his level-headed demeanor found a niche with the Kings. Under Karl, he ran the floor like a gazelle and his 3-point percentage shot through the roof. Gone was the inconsistent mid-range jumper from his younger days.
In 29 games under Karl following the All-Star break, Casspi averaged 11.2 points on 46.2 percent shooting from behind the arc. During that stretch, he started 19 games, scoring 14.3 points, grabbing 4.5 rebounds and handing out 2.2 assists. He shot 52.9 percent from the field as a starter and exactly 50 percent from long range.
For the season, Casspi shot 72.4 percent at the rim, using a myriad of dribble drive moves, Euro steps and breakaway dunks. Casspi took only 26 shots from 10 feet to the 3-point line, where as a rookie with the Kings he hoisted up 140 shots from the same area on the floor. By eliminating poor shot selection, Casspi managed to shoot a career-best 48.9 percent from the field and increased his free throw percentage by nearly five percent over any of his previous five seasons in the league.
Per 36 minutes, Casspi averaged right at his career-average of 6.6 rebounds per game. Where he took a tremendous leap was a passer. Casspi managed a career-best 11.8 percent assist percentage, which isn’t a gaudy number, but an improvement over his previous stops. With the starting unit, we saw Casspi create shots for his teammates and in Karl’s system, he’s bound to improve this aspect of his game.
Somewhere along the way, Casspi lost his ability to defend. He’s never been an elite defensive player, but this season he was a train wreck. Overall, Casspi allowed his opponent to shoot 5.5 percent higher than their season average, but that doesn’t capture the whole story.
From 10 feet in, Casspi allowed his opponents to shoot 63.2 percent and inside of six feet, that number jumped to 68.4 percent. Casspi has never been a shot blocker, but you almost have to try to allow your opponent to shoot 10 percent better than their season average inside of 10 feet.
It must be something in the Sacramento water that makes players poor defenders. During the 2013-14 season with the Rockets, Casspi held his opponents below their season average 2.6 percent overall. Where he allowed players to shoot 40 percent from long range this season, Casspi held his opponents to just 25.9 percent shooting from deep in Houston, a whopping 10.6 percent below their season averages.
Casspi’s 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes is fine, but he can do better. Casspi has a lightning-quick first step and solid instincts. Too often he left early to cherry pick on the other end, although that may have been by design. In back-to-back games in February, Casspi grabbed 12 rebounds followed by a career-high 17 the next night. The next six games he totaled 17 rebounds.
Casspi wants to return to Sacramento. He was very clear of this fact near the end of the season. He has already told his agent he wants to be a King and he considers Sacramento his second home.
That doesn’t always mean that he will return. The Kings need to improve their roster overall. Casspi is a very nice piece to the puzzle and his versatility really came in handy this season, but Karl will want a say in how this roster is designed.
Casspi did enough to win a starting job down the stretch and he finished the season as the team’s No. 1 3-point threat. It would be shocking if he’s not back next season, but we keep saying that about players in Sacramento and sure enough, they don’t return.
Cowbell Kingdom would like your opinion. How do you grade Omri Casspi’s season?
This is part eight of our continuing “Season in Review” series. Below are links to the first seven articles.