Omri Casspi didn’t exactly say he gives thanks for being in Houston and that he’s playing for the Rockets. He didn’t have to. It was clear with the broad, wide smile he gave when asked if this was the happiest he’s been in his five-year NBA career.
Casspi has been in the Rockets rotation from day one, coming off the bench in each of his 14 appearances. He’s been the Rockets top scorer off the bench four times this year, including on Monday night as he helped lead the Rockets to their come from behind 93-86 victory against Memphis.
He wasn’t sure things would work out so well when he came signed with Houston this offseason. “Coming in here to training camp, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the team,” Casspi said.
I’m happy things are going well,“ Casspi said. “(Just) have to keep getting better.”
Houston knew they needed to replace Carlos Delfino, even with Francisco Garcia coming back after re-signing this offseason. Casspi was far from an obvious choice to bring what they were losing.
Since joining the NBA in 2009, his time on the court was on a steady decline. His first two years in Sacramento he played in nearly every game and scored 9.5 points per game on 24.5 minutes a game.
But he was traded to Cleveland prior to the 2011-12 season. His time in Cleveland, say his minutes and production go way down. Last year he played in only 43 games and scored just four points per game
“I think I am a lot more mature now, I understand what I need to do on the court,” Casspi said about his improved production. “I have a lot more experience. I’ve been in situations overseas and here (in the NBA). I feel like this system really fits my game.”
In 14 games off the bench, Casspi is averaging 8.5 points, while shooting 44 percent overall and 39 percent on 3-pointers. His 56.2 true shooting percentage and 52.7 effective field goal percentage are both caree highs.
On Monday night, Casspi and the reserves were called upon to get the Rockets back in the game late in the third quarter. Once they did that, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale stuck with that group saying, “The guys that were playing, were playing well. They deserved to play.
“They earned the right to defend that lead and earned the right to go try and win that game.”
That sentiment was welcomed by Casspi and his mates off the bench.
“It gives us a lot of confidence for sure,” Casspi said. “It’s not something that typically a lot of NBA coaches will do. Phenomenal decision by coach. We’re happy that he made that decision and we helped the team to get a W(in).”
Casspi has gone from training camp hopeful to integral part of a 10-5 team. He said he really enjoys the style of basketball they play here in Houston.
“Every time when I run the court, I feel like I can get rewarded, because the point guard is pushing the ball” Casspi said. “I’ve been on some teams where the ball comes slow up the court and it wouldn’t make sense for me to run.
“Here we get rewarded if we run. The ball is moving and our offense flows really well.”
So is this the happiest he’s been in the NBA?
“Oh my gosh. Yes for sure,” he said.