Oct 13, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Nick Johnson (3) reacts after making a basket during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets plan on allowing rookies Clint Capela and Nick Johnson to spend time in the NBA’s Development League this season.
According to head coach Kevin McHale, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – the Rockets’ D-League affiliate – are reliable when it comes to developing young players. As a result, McHale strongly believes the team will help both Capela and Johnson (h/t Jonathan Feigan of the Houston Chronicle):
“The Vipers have been great for us. We sent guys down here. It helped them. D-Mo was down here. Terrence came down for a while. It really helps their game a lot. I like it. Like this year, will be a huge year for Clint Capela down here. That will be fantastic. Nick Johnson will be able to use this to improve. It’s been fantastic for us.”
Johnson boasts potential to play as an explosive, consistent scorer from the wing. His superb athleticism will help him grow into an effective perimeter defender, and his experience facilitating offense at the University of Arizona will allow him to play point guard as well.
However, the 21-year-old has struggled thus far in preseason, averaging 4.6 points on a lowly shooting percentage of 22.9 percent. At this point, his offensive game isn’t fully prepared to thrive in the NBA, and the D-League will provide him an opportunity to hone his skills and return a better player.
Sep 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) poses for a photo during media day at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Capela, on the other hand, is a 6’11” power forward/center who excels in finishing at the rim. He shot 89.4 percent of his attempts near the hoop and averaged a highly efficient 1.12 points per possession while playing for French basketball club Elan Chalon last season.
Unfortunately, Capela has yet to suit up this preseason due to a groin injury. Mix this lack of NBA experience with the fact he needs to improve his atrocious mid-range shooting percentage of 21.4 (among other things), and it’s evident the 20-year-old can benefit from spending time with the Vipers.
Both Capela and Johnson – who were selected 22nd and 42nd in this year’s draft, respectively – possess significant upside. For now, however, the two rookies must focus on enhancing their game in the D-League.