Omri Casspi has been through quite a lot during his NBA career. After being drafted by the Sacramento Kings as the NBA's first Israeli-born player, Casspi went through multiple stops--including two stays in Sacramento and two trades elsewhere--before ending an unfulfilling 2016-17 season on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Casspi has yet to make the playoffs during his eight-year NBA career. Luckily, that is about to change quite dramatically:
The deal is a one-year veteran minimum contract worth $2.1 million, per Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post. Casspi's signing fell off the league's radar for a bit after the Warriors agreed to terms with Nick Young one day later. However, Casspi's solid positional size, vastly superior defense, and limitless range make him a better fit for the Warriors' bench. Omri Casspi may quickly supersede Young in the Warriors' rotation. After eight years without a playoff berth and a strange journey through the NBA, Casspi will have the chance to be a vital rotation player for the defending champions.
Anyone who is the first NBA player in their country's history is bound to have an odd journey to the NBA. However, Casspi was not only a first-round pick but was also the first Israeli-born player to make it to the NBA. Given the success of some of the country's top basketball teams (notably Maccabi Tel Aviv, the former team of 2016's fourth overall pick Dragan Bender), Casspi was blazing an NBA trail for a country with a long history of basketball excellence.stayed in Sacramento for two years before being traded to Cleveland (along with a protected first-round pick that became Jordan Bell after six seasons) for J.J. Hickson. Casspi spent two unfulfilling years in Cleveland and one mediocre year in Houston before returning to Sacramento.
Omri Casspi's NBA career has been anything but stable. He stayed in Sacramento for two years before being traded to Cleveland (along with a protected first-round pick that became Jordan Bell after six seasons) for J.J. Hickson. Casspi spent two unfulfilling years in Cleveland and saw his role drastically diminish in Year Two after starting more than half of his 65 games in 2011-12. Casspi signed a one-year minimum contract with the Houston Rockets the next year and rehabbed his value enough to earn a second contract in Sacramento.
Omri Casspi was a Sacramento fan favorite in his first stint with the Kings, and he built on that success with an even more successful second tenure with the team. Casspi shot better than 40% from beyond the arc in both of his two full seasons in Sacramento. He enjoyed the best season of his career in 2015-16 under George Karl and showed his versatility as a deep threat and menacing transition player. Despite his success under Karl, Casspi never received a consistent role from Dave Joerger and was shipped to New Orleans along with DeMarcus Cousins. Omri broke his thumb in his first game with New Orleans and was immediately waived by the team. He then played in 13 dispiriting games with the Minnesota Timberwolves. With his new team, however, Casspi already seems to be in high spirits:
A Perfect Fit in Golden State
Most Warriors fans are already at least somewhat familiar with Omri Casspi. After all, the highlight of his career thus far came in a game against the Warriors, as Casspi matched Steph Curry shot-for-shot in one of the 2015-16 season's most entertaining shooting contests:
Casspi has the ability to heat up from deep at any time, and is a threat from 30 feet away and in. During his career year in 2015-16, Casspi averaged 1.028 points per possession per Synergy Sports, ranking in the 86th percentile league-wide. He was solid as both a spot-up shooter (1.023 points per possession, in the 70th percentile) and as a transition player (1.156 points per possession, in the 61st percentile). Although 2016-17 was a down year for Casspi, his transition excellence carried over--Casspi averaged 1.317 points per possession in transition last year, which was in the 88th percentile league-wide.
While Nick Young is slightly better on offense than Casspi, he cannot hold a candle to Casspi on the defensive end. At 6'9" Casspi has the size to defend both forward positions. Young is well below average on the defensive end, but Casspi can hold his own against various matchups. Casspi allowed 0.911 points per possession on the defensive end in 2016-17, which ranked in the 51st percentile league-wide--a slight improvement from being ranked in the 47th percentile the year before, and miles above Young's ranking in the bottom tenth percentile. Casspi's Defensive Real Plus-Minus also paints a picture of a slightly above-average defender, with a Defensive RPM of 0.05 this past season per ESPN.com.
Omri Casspi has an offensive game that fits perfectly with the Golden State Warriors, and the size to be the type of switchable forward that works well in their system. After eight years of missing the playoffs, he has found a nearly perfect fit in Golden State. Kings fans and Israeli basketball fans around the world will have plenty of reason to celebrate Omri as he makes his much-deserved first playoff run with the defending champions.