Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi has finished his first NBA season with an impressive record.
Having become the first Israeli to play in the NBA last October, Casspi, 21, played 1,931 minutes in 77 games for the Kings, scoring 792 points. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv star punched above his weight with the seventh best record of any rookie.
Casspi said: "If I'd told you last summer I was going to average 10.5 points a game, you'd have said sure Omri and thought I was mad. But my game still needs upgrading. I need to put on another five kilos to be stronger. I need to improve my control of the ball and be sharper in my shooting."
Casspi will earn $1.25 million in the coming season, and then see his yearly earnings rise to $1.35 million in the 2011/12 season, with the Kings now certain to take up their option to retain the Israeli for a third year.
He insists that his decision not to play for Israel last year has been vindicated. "I would not have been able to prepare myself properly physically and mentally for my NBA debut if I'd have returned to Israel," he said.
However, he confirmed that he will come home to play for Israel in the Euro 2011 qualifiers in August. "This summer I'll be there for the national team," he said.