Houston Rockets: The Emergence Of Clint Capela

Nov 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) dribbles the ball against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) dribbles the ball against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Emergence Of Houston Rockets Clint Capela

The Houston Rockets drafted Clint Capela in the first round (25th overall) in the 2014 NBA draft at age 20 years old as a stash away overseas project.

Never in a million years did anybody think Capela would be starting in his sophomore year at 21 years old for the Houston Rockets. Not to mention playing alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden.

Before the 2014 NBA draft, Kevin Pelton (A highly respected ESPN NBA analyst and draft expert) shared his thoughts on Clint Capela explaining, “My WARP projections have Capela as the No. 2 prospect in this year’s field.

Could he end up being the steal of the draft?

I think so.”

Looking for an #NBADraft2014 sleeper? @kpelton has one in Swiss big man Clint Capela » http://t.co/hNJPeWPvPW pic.twitter.com/yzkR4pxx2Q

— ESPN Insider (@ESPNInsider) June 26, 2014

Rapid Growth

Now let’s dive head first into the growth of Clint Capela in just one year.

Capela spent most of his rookie season down in the Rockets development league Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Capela played in 38 games for the Vipers and was a man among boys. Clint’s per game averages:

  • 24 Minutes Per Game
  • 16 Points Per Game
  • 9.7 Rebounds Per Game
  • 3 Blocks Per Game (3rd in the D-League)
  • 25.6 Player Efficiency Rating (3rd in the D-League)

As you can tell those stats are pretty impressive, but the NBA and D-League are two different worlds when it comes to talent. Capela didn’t play much his rookie year with the varsity team: 12 games with the Rockets in the NBA. Let’s take a look at Capela’s averages last year as a rookie in limited minutes;

  • 7.5 Minutes Per Game
  • 48.3% Field Goal Percentage
  • 2.7 Points Per Game
  • 3 Rebounds Per Game
  • 0.8 Blocks Per Game

These stats don’t look like much now, but when a player isn’t averaging a lot of minutes per game, it’s best to focus on the per 36 minute stats to truly understand the value of that players efficiency on the court. Let’s take a dive into Capela’s stats from his rookie season per 36 minutes;

  • 12.8 Points Per Game
  • 14.4 Rebounds Per Game
  • 3.6 Blocks Per Game

Now these are some impressive stats!

Not to mention Capela posted a defensive rating of 97 his rookie season. To put that number into perspective, Kwahi Leonard won the defensive player of year award last year posting a defensive rating of 96.4!

The most important area where a player is judged is during the playoffs, even more so than the regular season. Just ask James Harden.  Understandably with increased intensity during the post season most players stats, particularly offensively tend to take a dive in the playoffs. 

This is especially true of rookies because the game often turns into a half-court game with only the top defensive teams advancing. Capela’s stats amazingly stayed the same which tells you about a players heart and skill set when competing against the best.

Capela’s 2014-15 Playoff Stats Per Game:

  •  7.5 Minutes Per Game
  • 3.4 Rebounds Per Game
  • 2.5 Rebounds Per Game

Capela’s 2014-15 Playoff Stats Per 36 Minutes Per Game:

  • 16.2 Points Per Game
  • 11.9 Rebounds Per Game
  • 2.6 Blocks Per Game

Capela made 21 out of 31 shots for an average of 67.7%. This was the third highest field goal percent of the post season. A rookie being that efficient is unheard of, especially in the playoffs.

Clint Capela has arrived Houston,Texas
Clint Capela has arrived Houston,Texas /

Why J.B. Bickerstaff moved Capela into the starting line-up

To begin the 2015-16 season the Houston Rockets starting power forward Donatas Motiejunas was not ready to return from his off-season back surgery. This forced the insertion of Terrence Jones into the starting line-up at the power forward position.

TJ’s inconsistent play, effort, and injuries forced the hand of the J.B. Bickerstaff to make some lineup changes to start Capela over Jones at the power forward position. Additionally Bickerstaff had the following analytic details pushing him to make this change:

Rockets offensive rating with Terrence Jones:

On Court: 102.7

Off Court: 109.1

Net Rating: Minus -6.4

Opponents offensive rating with Terrence Jones:

On Court: 110.7

Off Court: 105.5

Net Rating: Plus +5.2

Overall Net Rating: -8.8

Now let’s take a look at the Rockets offensive rating with Clint Capela on and off the court:

Capela On-Off court charts
Capela On-Off court charts /

chart courtesy of


Rockets offensive rating with Clint Capela

On Court: 107.8

Off Court : 105.5

Net Rating: Plus +2.3

Opponents offensive rating with Clint Capela

On Court: 105.3

Off Court: 109.3

Net Rating: Minus -4.0

Overall Net Rating: +6.3

While the team could have exercised patience the above stats showcase why Bickerstaff made the switch and why he should get credit for it. In terms of team chemistry the fact the overall stats improved and came with victories is reward on its own. Through to January 19th the Rockets have a 22-21 record. When the Rockets start Dwight Howard and Clint Capela together in the front court the Rockets record is 15-10.

Capela has twelve double-digit rebounding nights and thirteen games of two or more blocks  in the 43 games Capela has played in.  Here’s a look at his complete second year stats with the Rockets:

  • 21.7 Minutes Per Game
  • 57.6% Field Goal Percentage (48.3% last year as a rookie)
  • 7.5 Points Per Game
  • 7.0 Rebounds Per Game
  • 1 Steal Per Game
  • 1.2 Blocks Per Game

Note: all stats courtesy of basketballreference.com as of Tuesday, January 19th

Now again let’s translate these stats per 36 minutes and see what we get in limited minutes.

  • 12.6 Points Per Game
  • 11.8 Rebounds Per Game
  • 1.6 Steals Per Game
  • 2.0 Blocks Per Game

The moral of this story is some how, some way coach Bickerstaff has to keep Capela in the game. Not only does Capela help the offense, but Clint also makes a huge impact on defense. We have yet to see the finished product of Capela, but the future looks very bright.

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