When the Kings drafted Omri Casspi with the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft, it was hope that the athletic Israeli forward could be part of a new youthful resurgence along with Tyreke Evans. For the first 29 games of his career, he even looked like he could be a future star, averaging 12.1 points on a very efficient 49.4% from the field and 44.1% from three.
Unfortunately for both Casspi and the Kings, his hot shooting fell off after that and his lack of improvement on defense or any sort of consistency offensively led to a diminished role. His production fell further in his sophomore year and eventually he was traded to Cleveland along with a protected pick (that has yet to be conveyed due to the extent of the protections) for J.J. Hickson. Casspi became another victim of Sacramento's black hole of a Small Forward spot.
A few years later, and the Kings are giving Casspi another chance, signing him to a one-year deal after a bit of a revival year with the Houston Rockets.
So what's different now than back then?
For one, there's not as much riding on Casspi. Back in 2009 and 2010, we were pinning a lot of our hopes on Casspi being a solution to our Small Forward problem. He was also trying desperately to live up to not only our expectations but the expectations of his country as the first Israeli to play in the NBA. Now the Kings have a more than solid starter at the position in Rudy Gay, and Casspi will not be expected to do anything more than his role, just as he was in Houston.
One thing that we should hope stays the same as in Casspi's first stint here is his outside shooting. Casspi's best shooting years came in Sacramento, particularly when it came to hitting the corner three. Casspi shot 50.9% from the corner in his rookie year and 45.9% from there in his sophomore year. The Kings were one of the worst outside shooting teams in the league last year, and even if Casspi only shoots at the same rate as he did last year in Houston (34.7% from three and 42.2% overall) he would still be among the better shooters on the team.
Casspi is also well suited to play in a fast paced offense such as the one the Kings are hoping to have in place here. Houston was 3rd in the NBA in Fast Break Points per game and it was in Houston where Casspi finally seemed to embrace the fact that he was best suited to be a roleplayer.
The Kings aren't looking for Omri Casspi to be a game changer, but as long as he can be a consistent contributor off the bench in a small role, that will be better than most others that have tried to do the same in the last few years.