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Why isn’t Omri Casspi shooting more three-pointers?

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Omri Casspi has proven himself in the past to be a dangerous three point shooter. Why has he only attempted eighteen threes this season?

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

After last night’s debacle against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Marcus Thompson of The Athletic had a Twitter exchange about the Golden State Warriors in which he highlighted their lack of shooting as part of their struggles lately.

Obviously, they have three of the best shooters/scorers in the history of the NBA in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. But beyond that? They’re struggling to find consistent shooters and opponents are starting to force those other non-shooters to beat them -- unfortunately, the scheme seemed to be working for the Thunder in their 125-105 win at Oracle Arena.

This problem is exactly why so many people were pleased with the signing of Omri Casspi.

Casspi has not shooting like we expected

When Casspi was signed as a free agent this summer, many thought he could end up an important piece of the rotation. A versatile combo forward with decent defense and smart instincts, he would fit well into the Warriors’ egalitarian, switch-heavy system.

In many ways, he has done well in his role, despite inconsistent rotation minutes and missing games due to health issues, including back spasms in January. He’s brought the little things coaches love to see from their role players. Last week, Steve Kerr complimented Casspi, saying, “When we call upon him, he’s always ready with his energy and his cutting and his movement and rebounding.”

Advanced statistics tend to value Casspi’s play. His True Shooting of 64.9% is amazing, and the team’s net rating of +12 when he’s on the floor is quite good.

However, Casspi’s Offensive Box Plus/Minus of -1.1 is shocking, almost the worst on the team. Offensively, the team can suffer with him on the floor simply because he refuses to shoot threes, causing spacing problems that slow down the offense considerably. He’s only shot eighteen threes the entire season (less than one tenth of Nick Young’s total output), about one every 36 minutes — he has only shot one three in the nine games he has been available in 2018. This by far his career low. On a team that’s needed their role players to hit open threes, that’s simply not enough.

Casspi has hit nine of his eighteen threes this season, is shooting a career high percentage from the foul line, and has several seasons of elite sharpshooting under his belt. He should be able to shoot well from three-point range. Just two seasons ago, Casspi almost matched Stephen Curry in long-range shootout in Oracle Arena.

What’s the problem?

So why isn’t Casspi shooting more threes? One reason could be that he is focusing on other offensive tasks. Casspi is an excellent cutter, and is finding more than 80% of his shots closer than ten feet from the basket. That’s great, but it does take him away from the three point line.

Another reason could be Casspi’s unusual form on his jumper. It’s a little slow and his release point is low, making it a bit easier to guard. But open three pointers should be easy for Casspi to find, as long as he looks for them: Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Patrick McCaw are able to find open looks, even if they’re not currently hitting them.

I do think Casspi can find good looks from three—he did so in the past, and the Warriors’ offense generates more open threes than any other he’s played for. He just has to look for them, and that means less cutting, screening, and time in the paint. Casspi becoming a respectable threat from distance would mean so much for this team.

Even if he can’t hit threes as well as he used to, it’s worth a try seeing what he can do as a spot-up guy. Otherwise, he probably won’t be seeing much playing time in the playoffs.