Year In Review: Omri Casspi
Reflecting upon Omri Casspi's past, present and future following the 2013-14 campaign
Much like teammate Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi enjoyed a strong start to the 2013-14 campaign but was unable to parlay that impressive opening run into sustained season-long success. The Israeli national was a revelation during the preseason, shooting 55 percent from the field and 38 percent from downtown while averaging 13 points and five boards per game. He looked right at home as an up-tempo, small-ball stretch four, and the seemingly perfect fit continued when the real games began as Casspi came off the bench to average more than nine points and four boards per contest during the month of November while shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc as well.
But the 25-year-old never could capture that kind of consistency the rest of the way. Casspi’s 3-point accuracy dipped sharply in the wake of his scorching start – he finished the season shooting .347; mere percentage points behind his career mark of .352 – and as a result his playing time began to diminish as well. Casspi still had his moments of splendor here and there, but they never arrived with the sort of regularity and reliability his play during the fall had suggested.
Few nights this season could have been sweeter for Casspi than the evening of January 22 when the fifth-year forward dropped 20 points and collected a career-high tying 12 rebounds against the club with which he began his NBA career. Casspi ran roughshod over his former team that night and so too did the rest of the Rockets as they smoked Sacramento 119-98.
THE NEXT STEP
This season represented Casspi’s initial foray into the stretch four role so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that he experienced some ups and downs while adapting to a new position. On the offensive end of the floor, the power forward spot suited him well as his shooting and Player Efficiency Rating were both significantly higher when we was lined up at the four rather than the three, according to 82games.com. Perhaps not surprisingly, however, the script flipped at the defensive end where Casspi had far more success slowing opposing small forwards rather than their more burly and powerful frontcourt brethren who earn their living at the four.
In order to better tilt the odds in his favor, then, the best thing Casspi can do is to put in the requisite work to take his 3-point shooting stroke to the next level. Casspi is a smart player who recorded a career high assist rate and one who excels in the open floor. But it’s no coincidence that his best stretches over the past year coincided with those periods during which his touch from the perimeter was on point, allowing the Rockets’ offense invaluable room to breathe. Should he acquire the ability to showcase that skill more consistently, his production will undoubtedly follow suit as well.