Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi has established himself as one of the NBA’s most outstanding rookies.
Earlier this week, Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, scored a personal record 18 points as the Kings beat the New Jersey Nets 109-96. The Kings had been expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA but Casspi’s good form helped them end November with a respectable eight wins from 16 games.
Standing 6ft 8in, Casspi, 21, was chosen as number 23 in the draft in the summer and given a three-year contract worth $3.5 million. He has averaged 24 minutes on court and 13 points, and has the 15th best record in all of the NBA with a 45.7 per cent success rate for three-point shots from outside the box. If he maintains his current form he will be selected for the NBA Allstars Rookies team in February in their traditional fixture against the best second-year players.
Casspi said: “Kings coach Paul Westphal shouts at me a lot in training. But I don’t mind because he shows how much confidence he has in me by giving me a lot of playing time, especially in the fourth quarter. My main aim now is to make sure I don’t take my foot of the pedal.”
Casspi’s number 18 shirt has proven one of the most popular items of merchandise this season with Kings fans. The NBA outfit is even marketing a special edition of Casspi’s kit with his name emblazoned in Hebrew.