The Sacramento Kings' Other First-Round Pick

Yoni JanisContributor IJune 28, 2009

The Sacramento Kings were the worst team in the NBA this season (and probably will be at the bottom in the upcoming season), but they had a really good draft this season.

First, they selected Tyreke Evans with the fourth overall pick. We all know about Tyreke, but the Kings had another pick in the first round, which most people know nothing about. But in my opinion, he will turn out to be a really good player.

As David Stern emerged out of the back room to announce the 23rd pick in the NBA Draft, with a big smile on his face, I knew right at that moment (since he is a Jew) as a basketball fan in Israel that the moment I have waited for a long time was about to happen.

David Stern said the words, "With the 23rd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Omri Casspi from Rehovot Israel."

For me, it was one of the biggest sporting events of my life. By the way, David got the wrong town since Casspi is not from Rehovot, but never mind.

As a Basketball fan in Israel that loves the NBA, I'm used to waking up at odd hours to watch the best basketball in the world, but coming back from a friends party that night a bit wasted, I decided to pass watching the Draft live.

However, I woke up at four in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I decided to turn on ESPN. It was around the 17th pick in the draft, and turning the channels between ESPN and the sports channel in Israel (which had live feed from Casspi’s house) the tension was great until the moment Stern came out of the back room.

Israel is the probably the best basketball nation in the world yet to have a player play in the NBA. Israel is always in the top 10 countries in Europe, and one of the best clubs in the history of European basketball.

It's time that we have a player in the NBA.

Casspi himself brings a lot of energy to the table and would be a great fit for a team like the Knicks because he plays his best ball when on the fast break. Experts are claiming that he is a lot like Andres Nocioni, and there are lots of similarities.

Casspi is not as good of a defender as Andres, but is probably a better offensive player.

The upside is that he has length, and is young, so he should probably be able to improve his defense.

Casspi has lots of emotion. One of the greatest moments was last year in the European championship qualifications against Great Britain. Britain were leading by around 25 points with a great performance by Luol Deng, when out of desperation the coach put Casspi in the game towards the end of the third quarter.

Casspi brought lots of emotion in a situation where there was nothing to be emotional about and nearly single-handedly won the game for Israel.

Another advantage he has, which not a lot of players have when they come over to the NBA—he played at one of the better clubs in Europe, which will help him adjust to the game in the NBA better.

I think Casspi will become a very useful player in the NBA, and will always be remembered as the first Israeli player in the NBA.