By ALLON SINAI
Sacramento Kings coach Paul Westphal believes Omri Casspi is acclimating well to the NBA, thanks in large part to his impressive work ethic.
Casspi, drafted 23rd overall by the Kings in June, hit two of six shots and had six points in the Kings' 98-92 preseason loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, but Westphal is delighted with the strides being made by the Israeli forward.
"He just keeps getting better," Westphal told the Sacramento Bee before Thursday's defeat at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center.
"He didn't come over here to fail. He's serious. You tell him something, and he works on it and tries to add it to his game. He's gotten better every day."
Casspi, who is set to become the first Israeli to play in the NBA later this month, hit seven of eight shots in his first two preseason games before Thursday, but his coach is hoping for further improvement in that department.
"He knows his shot needs to not only be more reliable but it needs to be excellent at the position he plays," Westphal said. "He'll come in Sunday nights by himself, and we have to tell him, 'Don't come in so much working on your shot; you're going to get tired.' But he's shooting it with more confidence and with better accuracy because of that.
"In the summer, he'd just dribble into traffic, jump up into the air and then look around for somebody to throw the ball to," Westphal added. "We just said, 'That's not going to work here. You have to jump-stop, pivot - fundamental things about ball handling that was not his nature. You see him working on it before practice, after practice. He still does it sometimes, but not as much."
Casspi is confident he will continue to get better.
"I didn't come here to fail," Casspi said. "I came here to play basketball and live basketball and enjoy my dream. I'm working hard, and I want to succeed. I've got a lot more things I haven't done yet."
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