The Sacramento Kings have some big names on this roster. DeMarcus Cousins is the best center in the NBA. Rajon Rondo is racking up triple-doubles and leading the NBA in assists. Rudy Gay is one of the best scorers. Yet it's Omri Casspi, the player who chose to re-sign in Sacramento for the room exception, who has perhaps elevated his game the most under George Karl.
Casspi is a far different player than the one we saw during his first stint here. He's more cognizant of his role and has become an incredible spark for the Kings off the bench. Yes, there are still some frustrating moments when he'll try to make a pass that isn't there, or a drive to the rim goes awry, but the good far outweighs the bad. In fact, the Kings are a flat-out better team with Casspi on the floor. Per basketball-reference, The Kings offensive rating is 4.3 points per 100 possessions better with Omri on the floor and perhaps most surprisingly, the defense is 8.4 points per 100 possessions better. George Karl said after the Orlando game that he thought Casspi had become one of the team's better team defenders, and the numbers back that up.
One of Casspi's better contributions to the defensive side of things has been his rebounding. While he's always been a good rebounder for his position, he's doing even better this year, with a 21.9% defensive rebounding rate so far this season. By comparison, that's a higher rebounding percentage than even Jason Thompson ever managed as a Sacramento King, and Thompson wasn't exactly a slouch on the boards.
Casspi's offensive game has flourished under Karl, although his time in Houston helped immensely. Casspi rarely takes mid-range jumpers. In fact, he hasn't even taken a single shot from 16-23 feet the entire season. Instead, he focuses on shooting the three ball or attacking the rim. As a result, he's shooting at the most efficient rate of his career, with a near-60% True Shooting Percentage. That's borderline elite.
Omri Casspi has become an incredibly important player for the Sacramento Kings, which is just what many had hoped would happen when we drafted him back in 2009. He might have taken the scenic route in developing, but the wait has been worth it. If the Kings are going to go on to do good things this season, Casspi will be a big factor.