NBA: Casspi delighted with ‘dream season’

NBA’s first Israeli finishes campaign among top-10 rookies in scoring, rebounding.

casspi 311 (photo credit: Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT)
casspi 311
(photo credit: Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT)
Omri Casspi’s rookie season may have ended on a sour note, but that should take nothing away from his outstanding first NBA campaign.
Despite entering the season with little expectation, the 21-year-old Israeli quickly found his place with the Sacramento Kings and posted very impressive numbers.
A statistical analysis of his rookie year shows several interesting points, but first and foremost proves how successful he has been.
Casspi played in 77 of Sacramento’s 82 games, starting in 40 of them and averaging 25.1 minutes per game, a total of 1931 minutes, the fourth most on the team. He averaged 10.3 points, scoring 44.6 percent from two-point range, 36.9% from beyond the arc and 67.2% from the free-throw line.
Casspi, who was among the nine rookies selected to take part in the NBA’s All-Star Rookie Challenge in February, grabbed an average 4.5 rebounds, while passing 1.2 assists and registering 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks and 1.27 turnovers per game.
He may have only been selected with the 23rd pick of the draft, but Casspi ended the season ranked among the top 10 rookies in scoring (8), rebounding (6), three-pointers made (7) and minutes played (9).
After such an intensive season, Casspi is desperate for a holiday and on Friday he will fly to Costa Rica for a break.
“To be honest I haven’t really comprehended yet that the season is over,” he told 103FM radio. “No more games, no more practices. We played 82 games in six months. That is almost a game every two days.”
Casspi’s stats show that the long and rigorous season took its toll as the months progressed.
After a very successful November in which he averaged 10.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12 games, Casspi broke into Sacramento’s starting lineup in December, starting in seven of 14 games and posting 14.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.
Casspi managed to maintain his rebounding average at around 5.0 per game in 2010 as well, but he scored less with every month that passed. He dropped from 12.2 points per game in January to 10.5 in February and 5.3 in March before averaging 7.8 in six games in April.    However, it is important to note that despite the fact that he had never played back-to-back games on a regular basis until this season, Casspi posted an impressive 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in the 17 games he entered without even a day of rest, while in 18 games preceded by two days rest he averaged 8.8 points and 5.1 boards.
“I really enjoyed my first season and I would have no problem playing more games if I had to, but I am also happy it is over,” said Casspi, who confirmed he will be joining the Israel national team for its EuroBasket qualifiers this summer after missing out on the European Championships last year to prepare for the draft. “
This was a dream season for me. I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the campaign and if I would have said that I wanted to average 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds you would have told me I am crazy and I probably would have also thought so myself.”
Despite the dream season, Casspi knows he still has plenty to improve and is looking forward to working on his game ahead of what he hopes will be an even better second season.
“The last quarter of the season was a little tough,” he admitted. “Ihad a difficulty maintaining consistency and I also began to feel mybody tiring, while the rotation in the team also changed.
“I had a good season, but I can still improve many aspects of my game.I need to work on my dribbling and defense and also add 4-5 kilogramsof muscle. I need to fine tune my shot and better my free-throwpercentage.
“There is so much to improve and I’m looking forward to working on my game in the summer.”