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30Q: Can Omri Casspi continue to flourish under Dave Joerger?

Omri Casspi had the best year of his career last season under George Karl. Can he repeat that success under another new coach?

Casspi Kimani Okearah

If there was one player that actually benefited from George Karl’s short tenure with the Sacramento Kings, it was Omri Casspi. In the biggest role of his career so far, Casspi was one of Sacramento’s key contributors off the bench, averaging career-highs in almost every single category. Karl’s offense gave him the freedom to launch threes when he wanted, attack the basket in transition and make decisions with the ball, and while there were some hiccups along the way, Casspi was better than ever.

Casspi is now entering the final year of what is one of the cost effective contracts in the league, and he’ll be playing for a big payday, especially after seeing how guys like Derrick Williams and others have gotten paid more despite not producing as much. However he’ll have to go through another adjustment period with Dave Joerger, and the offense is expected to slow way down. He’ll also face a little more competition for minutes now that the Kings have brought in guys like Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple and Arron Afflalo, and the team still hasn’t traded Rudy Gay.

That being said, Casspi still might be one of Sacramento’s most important players for the foreseeable future. Should the Kings trade Rudy Gay (and that’s looking more and more inevitable) there will be a serious gap once again at the Small Forward position. Casspi seems ready to fill that void, especially if he can keep up his production this season. Casspi was one of the most efficient players in the league last season, shooting 53.7% on his two-pointers and 40.9% on his three pointers (which makes his 64.8% free throw percentage so mind-boggling). With Curry gone, Casspi ranks as the best three point shooter on the team, along with Anthony Tolliver and Darren Collison. Given that the Kings are focused on building around Cousins, it’s important that the team have good shooters around him, especially as I expect Cousins to operate inside a whole lot more under Joerger than he did with Karl.

The biggest question that I have for Casspi under Joerger is on defense. Joerger seems more willing to play players who can bring it on both ends of the court, and while the Kings were better defensively on the court last season with Casspi than without, they were still a bad defensive team either way. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joerger lean more on guys like Temple or Barnes at times because of their defensive acumen.

Joerger doesn’t seem averse to playing small ball at times either though. In an interview earlier this offseason, he claimed we might see Matt Barnes play the Power Forward spot at some points this season. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Omri Casspi also see some time as a small-ball four. It’s frankly a better option than Anthony Tolliver, as Casspi’s better in almost every single category and rebounded about on par with many NBA Power Forwards last season (his 20.1% Defensive Rebounding Rate was higher than guys like Derrick Favors, Al Horford and Timofey Mozgov).

Whatever the case, Casspi needs a big role on this Kings team. There might be some hiccups along the way as the team figures out how to adjust to Dave Joerger’s slow-it-down style (which might not be as slow as it was in Memphis given Sacramento’s personnel but it definitely won’t be as fast as last season), but Casspi’s efficiency alone warrants playing time. Here’s hoping for another big year from Omri.