Omri Casspi smiling 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
In his third Summer League game, Omri Casspi learned that the road to the NBA can be just as long and hard for players with guaranteed contracts as those pushing for a place on a team, as he continued to struggle with his shot and saw his Kings squad fall to the Milwaukee Bucks 91-86 on Monday.
Casspi was held scoreless until a layup with 5:23 remaining in the game, finishing with two points, three rebounds a single block and an assist on one of five shooting.
Visibly uncomfortable and frustrated with himself, the 21-year-old Israeli was unable to find the rhythm that has eluded him thus far during camp.
However, Casspi continued his leadership role, directing players and hustling on defense, making up for the offense his game was lacking.
Normally this effort would not be enough to keep a player in a Summer League rotation.
Luckily for Casspi and the Kings organization, this game was just a speed bump in the career of someone ready to break out and burst into stardom.
Despite his toughest game so far this summer, Coach Paul Westphal praised Casspi after the game for his "defense" and for "fitting in with his teammates."
"Even though he hasn't found his rhythm and is still trying to get comfortable with himself, the team got off to a good start while he was on the floor," Westphal said,
The coach noted Casspi's toughness and his desire to win, before reiterating that the focus of Summer League is developing players as opposed to winning ball games.
There is immense pressure that comes with being the first in any situation, and Casspi is going through the experience halfway around the world, after the Kings made him the first Israeli drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Casspi's only basket came with under five and a half minutes remaining in a game his team would ultimately lose.
His game had been dismal up to that point, but when the ball went through the net, it did not matter to his team or his fans. Casspi's first points of the game were met with a standing ovation from both sides of the court.
It may be a long road to the NBA, but Omri Casspi is learning how to navigate it one speed bump at a time.
Joseph D. Robbins is reporting live from Summer League in Las Vegas. Follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/josephdrobbins, and be sure to check his blog "Robbins Rants" at http://www.robbinsrants.com for live updates from Summer League.