Houston Rockets: Omri Casspi Shines in Pre-Season Opener

By Phillip Pyle

Oct 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets small forward Omri Casspi (18) runs up the court during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center. The Pelicans defeated the Rockets 116-115. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

When the Houston Rockets signed free-agent Omri Casspi there was little fain fair. Casspi was drafted 23rd overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, making him the first Israeli to be selected in the first round of the draft. With his debut with the Kings in 2009, Casspi became the first Israeli to play in an NBA game. He reminded many Kings fans of Peja Stojakovic. In 2011 he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for J.J. Hickson, but his time with the Cavs was not a memorable one.

There were not many expectations for Omri coming into the season, but his performance in the first pre-season game reminded fans of Carlos Delfino. Casspi hit 9-of-10 shots from the field and scored 20 points in 21 minutes. Casspi still has work to do on the defensive end, but Rockets head coach Kevin McHale was pleased with Omri’s energy.

“He’s going to have to develop,” McHale said. “He’s going to have to get comfortable with the way he plays. He’s similar to Carlos in that Carlos knew how to get open and was very smart, knew how to read stuff. He knew how to get in the open spot. Omri is the same way offensively. Defensively is where he’s got to get better. It’s where we really have to keep helping him out. He’s a diligent kid. He’ll get better.