Israeli forward Omri Casspi is playing his way into the regular rotation on the Golden State Warriors..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After getting life with the Golden State Warriors off to a frustrating start, Omri Casspi is slowly beginning to carve out a role for himself with the NBA champion.
The 29-year-old Israeli forward had his best game for the team since joining in the summer on Wednesday night, posting 13 points, three rebounds, three blocks, two steals, one assist and one three-pointer in 20 minutes off the bench in the 125-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After losing two of their first three games, the Warriors (9-3) have won eight of nine to move top of the Western Conference standings, with Wednesday’s victory the team’s fifth in a row by at least 17 points.
Minnesota entered with five consecutive wins, but the streak ended with Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson orchestrating a 44-26 third-quarter blitz.
Thompson finished with 28 points, and Curry added 22, eight assists and eight rebounds.
“I feel like this is the first time in my career that because of the way we play on offense and defense I can just play basketball without thinking too much and just play the game,” said Casspi.
“And I have great guys around me who obviously take a lot of focus so I’m able to cut and do the stuff that a role player should do. I’m enjoying it and loving it so I just want to keep going, play hard and do what I need to do.”
Casspi hadn’t played more than 13 minutes in a game this season until Wednesday, but made the most of Kevin Durant’s absence due to a thigh injury. Last season’s Finals MVP is expected to be back in the lineup for Saturday’s game versus Philadelphia.
“I went to [Kevin Durant] in the locker room and told him: “You are holding me back bro. They are calling MVP for me,” Casspi joked after being asked about the “M-V-P” chants he received from fans. “It was just funny and I missed a free throw because of that. I couldn’t focus.”
Casspi understands he can’t expect more than a limited role on the league’s best team, but he is more than content with that.
“I told [Coach] Steve [Kerr] in the summer, like I tell him every day when he comes to me to say that I might not play and he doesn’t know what will happen, that I’ll be ready,” noted Casspi, who is in his ninth NBA season.
“It is just being a professional and being a guy that knows his role on the team. And whenever he needs me to go out there and bring energy and play hard and do the stuff I do, I’ll be ready. And he knows that and I’m happy for that. I take a lot of pride in being ready whenever he needs me.”Reuters contributed to this report.