Heading into last season, Cleveland Cavaliers fans were anxious to see if forward Omri Casspi would be able to become an impact player for the team.
Cavs fans knew what they gave up in 2011 when the inconsistent J.J. Hickson was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Casspi, but one year later many are still not sure about what the team has in the 6-9 forward from Israel.
Casspi had a rather disappointing season last year, posting career lows in points, rebounds, shooting percentage and other statistics. He had plenty of good moments and solid games during the season, but was not the impact player many fans were hoping for.
And as the 2012-2013 season draws closer, many Cavs fans still aren’t sure what to expect from Casspi. In a preseason game on Monday in Cincinnati against the Orlando Magic, though, the talented forward gave fans some hope.
In the 114-111 overtime win, Casspi scored all seven Cleveland points in the overtime, scoring on a clutch three-pointer, a put-back and a dunk.
For the game, Casspi scored 12 points, while shooting 5 for 9 with 2 three-pointers. He also pulled down three rebounds, and had one assist, one steal and one block. He only played 21 minutes, but he was active and made an impact, especially in the overtime.
If this is the player Cavs fans see in the regular season, Casspi can be a key player for the Wine and Gold.
That’s a big if, though, as last season, Casspi averaged just 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while playing just over 20 minutes a night. He shot 40 percent from the field, and 31.5 percent from the three-point line.
Casspi can be an effective shooter from the outside, and he should get open shots in the Cleveland offense. The Cavs need him to improve his shooting percentage this year, and they have to know they can depend on him to make shots in crunch time, just as he did against Orlando on Monday.
Casspi also needs to be a reliable defender. Head Coach Byron Scott wants his team to play solid team defense, and Casspi has the talent and experience now to be a strong defender.
He also needs to be consistent. At times last year, Casspi would have games where he had highlight reel moments, but he would also have games where it was hard to remember if he played much or not.
Heading into his fourth season in the league, Casspi needs to become a reliable player on both ends of the floor. He has the talent and experience, and he has skilled players around him. Cavs fans are hoping that this is the year Casspi becomes the player they know he can be.