It also displayed the multifaceted game of Omri Casspi.
In Thursday’s matchup, Casspi flourished, scoring a season-high 17 points, while grabbing a season-best 11 rebounds, even dishing out two assists for good measure. In addition to being his best performance of the season, it was Casspi’s second straight strong outing
The performance was the type the Warriors were expecting when they signed the Israeli-born veteran to a one-year $2.1 million deal in July. Casspi’s combination of three-point shooting, ability to cut, and overall basketball intelligence made him a perfect fit for Steve Kerr’s offense.
“He’s a perfect fit for us,” Kerr said. “He’s a great cutter, always has wonderful timing on his cuts.”
Raised just outside of Israel, Casspi learned the fundamentals of the game at a young age. While most young players stateside honed their one-on-one game on the AAU circuit, Casspi learned the art of cutting, passing, and ball movement.
“The game overseas is so much more dependent on cutting and moving and cutting without the ball,” Casspi said. “That’s winning basketball to me.
The lessons taught him well, as he became a decorated player in the Euroleague, winning the 2008 Israeli League Sixth Man of the Year award with averages of 10.4 points and 4 rebounds per contest. In 2009, he finished fourth in voting for the FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year Award, in a player crop that included NBA-level talents like Ricky Rubio, Kosta Koufas, and Danilo Gallinari.
However, Casspi’s team success in Isreal has not been matched in the NBA thus far. Prior to joining the Warriors, Casspi bounced around the league, playing stints for the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Sacramento Kings. Over his NBA career, he’s only made the playoffs once, as a member of the 2013-14 Rockets.
Last season was particularly atypical for Casspi. He started the campaign as a member of the Kings before being traded along with All-Star guard DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. His stint in New Orleans lasted just one game as he was subsequently cut after breaking his right thumb in a game where he scored 12 points, grabbing two rebounds in 24 minutes. Following his release, he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves with the remainder of the season.
The Warriors have welcomed Casspi with open arms this season, particularly forward Kevin Durant. During the first half of a Dec. 8 matchup against the Detroit Pistons, Durant gave Casspi some words of encouragement following a layup.
“He was like, ‘Omri! Great move.” Casspi recalled of the exchange.
The brief in-game dialogue had a lasting impact on Casspi.
“I went up to KD at halftime and said ‘you talking to me like that during the game, that just brings so much more confidence [to me].”
The Warriors also provide another opportunity to Casspi, one that eluded him throughout his career: a chance to win a championship.
“It would mean the world,” Casspi said. “I want to be apart of this and do whatever it takes to get that goal.”