Season in Review: Omri Casspi

May 23, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Season Overview: There’s little question that Cavs forward Omri Casspi never quite found his rhythm with the Wine and Gold in his first year with the squad.

Casspi was acquired in a trade with Sacramento – along with a protected 1st round draft pick from the Kings in exchange for J.J. Hickson – just days before the NBA lockout. With abbreviated Training Camps not tipping off until mid-December, Casspi didn’t get a real chance to gel with his new squad until the helter-skelter season began.

The 6-9, 225-pounder played in 65 of the Cavaliers’ 66 games, starting the first 34 games of the season. He got just one more start after March 3, but proved that he might be better suited bringing energy off the bench. In an injury-plagued season for Cleveland, Casspi was one of its iron men.

The first Israeli player drafted in the first round, Casspi made his debut with Euroleague powerhouse, Maccabi Tel Aviv, at age 17. He played several years with veteran guard Anthony Parker, and those two formed an instant bond in Cleveland. Omri was also very active in the Cleveland Jewish community during a busy first year on the North Coast.

Casspi averaged 9.5 ppg in two years with Sacramento, notching double-digits in 70 games. He reached double-figures in 16 games with the Wine and Gold, averaging 7.1 ppg and leading the team in scoring just once this season.

Casspi struggled with his new club this season, but the scrappy forward doesn’t turn 24 until this June and even Byron Scott acknowledged that it can take a full year for a player to fully adjust after a trade.

Highlight: Casspi never had a big breakout game with the Cavaliers. His best performance of the season, from an individual game standpoint, came against Charlotte in an April 10th win at The Q. In that win, Casspi went 5-for-8 from the floor, canning both three-point attempts while grabbing four boards and handing out a pair of helpers.

Lowlight: Though he embodied Byron Scott’s philosophy of playing hard every night, Casspi didn’t rediscover his West Coast form in his first year with Cleveland. He didn’t put together more than three straight double-figure scoring games and grabbed double-digit boards in just a single contest.

Odds and Ends: … Omri played both tennis and basketball growing up in Israel. His father is the tennis player and his mother and younger sister are the hoopsters. His mom played for the National Team and his sister might have had a future in the WNBA if not for a pair of knee injuries.

By the Numbers: 12.0, 5.6 … Casspi’s scoring and rebounding averages through a three-game stretch in January.

Looking forward: When he’s back in the States, Casspi will have a chance to get in some offseason work with Cavs coaches. He’s a young player whose best basketball might be ahead of him. Byron Scott loved his hustle and tenacity, but now he has to rediscover some of the mojo he had in California’s capital.

Quotable: Casspi, on the difference between his previous coaches and Byron Scott …

“Coach Scott is tough on the players. Not too tough – he’s demanding, like a coach should be. At the same time, he’s like a protective father. And he really gives you the confidence to do what you do. It’s great to be under his coaching.”