Casspi keeps busy during NBA sophomore summer

Despite successful rookie season, 22-year-old spends his summer working on every facet of his game.

omri casspi 311 (photo credit: AP)
omri casspi 311
(photo credit: AP)
Omri Casspi will join the Israel national team in training later this week after completing his participation in the NBA Summer League on Sunday.
After playing five games in six days in Las Vegas, Casspi was rested on Sunday and didn’t feature in the Sacramento Kings’ 85-54 blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Despite a successful rookie season, the 22-year-old has spent his summer working on every facet of his game to ensure he is better equipped for life in the NBA. Casspi added an extra 15 pounds of upper-body muscle by participating in Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball Camp, and despite some erratic play in the summer league, he is pleased with his overall display in Las Vegas.
Casspi averaged 14.0 points, hitting 48.9% of his field-goals in 24.6 minutes on court over the five summer league games he played.
“This summer has been great for me in so many ways,” Casspi told the Sacramento Bee.
“At the end of last season, (GM) Geoff (Petrie) and (coach) Paul (Westphal) told me that I needed to get stronger, just get back to playing the way I did earlier last season. I can do that. I didn’t realize at the time how fatigued I became with… everything.”
Kings’ summer league coach Mario Elie was delighted with Casspi’s contribution.
“I’m proud of him,” Elie said. “He earned his minutes.
He’s one of the guys we’re trying to get better.”
Despite the progress being made, Sacramento coach Westphal is expecting further improvement from his Israeli forward.
“Omri is a naturally aggressive player,” said Westphal, who will have to decide how to split the minutes in the small forward position between Casspi, Donté Greene and Francisco García.
“We’re looking for him to be consistent. You can’t charge in all circumstances. The way our team is, that position is going to be more of a counterpuncher.
“Give us defense first. Spread the floor offensively. And judgment.
We’re looking for those three things.”
Casspi will now turn his focus to the national team’s EuroBasket qualifying campaign, which begins away at Italy on August 2. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv forward hasn’t played for Israel in two years after choosing to forgo last summer’s European Championships to prepare for the NBA draft.
After such an outstanding rookie season in the NBA the expectations from Casspi’s return to the blue-and-white are sky-high. However, gone are the days when he allowed all the hype in Israel to affect his mindset on court.
“It’s still a big deal back home,” Casspi added, “but I can deal with things better. I have the national team coming up. Then it’s back here to the camp, then to Sacramento for a few weeks before the season. I want to be good so badly. I just have to keep working.”