Omri Casspi slowly taking Nick Young’s minutes early in camp
Despite a brilliant offseason that saw the Golden State Warriors re-sign their two most key players in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and two essential pieces off the bench in Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, the team wasn’t able to keep the same roster as last season, re-signing only seven of their nine impending free agents.
As a much-improved Ian Clark and an energetic James Michael McAdoo left the team for different NBA ventures, the Warriors filled those holes with two multi-positional talents in Omri Casspi and Nick Young — but one of them might be fitting in better than the other thus far.
While Young’s acquisition was a contested one and one personally recommended by former assistant coach Luke Walton, who coached him for one season during his gig with the Los Angeles Lakers, it has been Casspi who has impressed the coaching staff through this training camp.
Young came into camp overweight and has had a tough time transitioning to a run-and-gun style combined with the constant movement within the half-court offense the team has boasted for the last three seasons.
“It’s tough, you know, being in a whole new surrounding,” Young said Wednesday, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “Adjusting to the flow and things, their style of play, the cuts, the backdoors, the constant movement.”
Casspi, on the other hand, has proved a natural fit for this offense, often innately reacting to screens and making cuts at the right time with the greatest of ease.
“Our style requires quick recognition of concepts and floor balance and cutting,” Kerr said when asked about Casspi’s fit on the offensive end. “The first day, the patterns he recognizes… To be honest, most of the European guys seem to have that feel for cutting off the ball, for whatever reason. It comes naturally to him.”
Even his teammates have noticed just how well he’s picked up the system from the early get-go.
“Shooter, slasher, great passer,” point guard Stephen Curry said of Casspi. “He’s made comments about how fun it is to play in this system.”
The 6-foot-9 Israeli will likely get more minutes at the three spot and some as a stretch-four through the beginning of the season and is likely to be the preferred choice of this coaching staff to begin the season. He’s been known as an underrated jack of all trades, a nifty cutter that can get easy buckets as well as shoot the three comfortably and reliably.
Young will need to first lose the weight, then abandon every notion of the happy-shooting, gunner mentality he’s had over his last 10 seasons now surrounded by a myriad of stars for the first time in his career.
“I told him he’s going to make a major impact on our team, but this is a different situation than he’s ever been in,” Kerr said. “This is the deepest team he’s going to play on, probably the deepest team we’re going to have here. So there’s times where he’s not going to get much of a look and then there will be times when he’s starting and scoring 25 points. That’s going to be the challenge being on a team like this. But he wants it.”
There aren’t many minutes available in this Warriors rotation, especially with all the stars back in place and a new intriguing addition in Jordan Bell, who has impressed early this preseason and can get his fair share of playing time at the four and five spots.
Young will have a role with this team, but how significant it is will largely depend on his ability to adjust to the system and play his role correctly. Winning is a lot of fun, but it comes at the price of sacrifice for this organization.