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Houston Rockets: Clint Capela 2016-17 Player Preview

Mar 18, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) drives the ball to the basket during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) drives the ball to the basket during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Apr 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) prepares to shoot the ball during the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Capela enters the 2016-17 season with opportunity and plenty of questions.

With Dwight Howard’s departure there is a void in Houston’s starting line-up. The big question is the Swiss center ready for takeoff?

The 2016-2017 season arrives with big expectations for the Houston Rockets. After letting big man Dwight Howard walk to the Atlanta Hawks, hiring a new head coach and adding new roster pieces there’s a lot of questions and mystery surrounding the Texan team.

Mostly there are doubts regarding Clint Capela’s readiness to take over the starting gig this year. To an extent Capela continuously amazed us last season with a potential that seemed limitless. But the Swiss stud has big shoes to fill.

After a sub-par season with a team who failed to live up to expectations Rockets fans are  demanding improvements equal to their talent.

Stylistically Clint Capela appears to be a better fit and complement to James Harden’s game. But,  there’s uncertainty as to whether Capela can be a competent scorer as well as a solid paint and rim protector.

In addition despite gaining 10-12 pounds of muscle in the offseason Capela still needs to prove he can hold his own against bigger and stronger competition.

The young center has been groomed and prepared for two seasons now. It’s time to see what Capela is capable of. Coupled with more responsibilities and additional playing time the stage looks to be set for Capela to show his worth.

Next: Accomplishments

Feb 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; World player Clint Capela (15) shoots the ball over U.S player Karl-Anthony Towns (32) in the first half during the Rising Stars Challenge basketball game at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2015-2016 Accomplishments

Clint Capela’s 2015-2016 season was filled with records, highlights as well as personal awards. Most noteworthy was his appearance in the Rising Stars Challenge.

Regular Season*:

  • 7.0 Points Per Game
  • 1.2 Blocks Per Game
  • 6.4 Rebounds Per Game
  • 19.1 Minutes Per Game
  • 58.2 Field Goal %

*All Career-highs

Post Season:

For reasons beyond anybody’s comprehension J.B. Bickerstaff kept Capela mostly on the bench during the series against the Warriors. Thus, after falling victim to J.B.’s wacky rotations his impact in the series was drastically limited.

  • 1.6 Points Per Game
  • 4.0 Rebounds Per Game
  • 8.6 Minutes Per Game
  • 33.3 Field Goal %

Personal:

  • Competed for the World Team in the Rising Stars Challenge on All Star Weekend.
  • Recorded his first double-double, against the Sacramento Kings – 13 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Started 35 games most as a Power Forward.

Next: Strengths Part 1

Apr 10, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) defends against Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) during the first half at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports 

Pick and Roll & Setting Screens:

Clint Capela is downright lethal in pick and roll opportunities. He sets the screen with terrific timing and rolls up incredibly fast to finish with power.

The Swiss man is in the 83rd percentile as a roll man efficiently scoring 1.17 points per possession. Putting his efficiency in perspective this is higher than either Dwight Howard or Al Horford.

In the system Mike D’Antoni will be implementing he needs players exactly with these kind of characteristics ie quick and decisive scorers.

Capela works great angles with Harden and has great notion of distance thus not requiring to dribble the basket in order to finish his plays. To wit as per NBA.com 83.6% of Capela’s shot attempts come after taking 0 dribbles.

The “Swiss Roll” as he’s sometimes called will have plenty of room to work with Harden setting picks for the shooting guard as the rest of the squad spreads and spaces the floor.

Furthermore Capela clogs the paint considerably less than Howard which helps potential drivers.

Next: Strengths Part 2

Apr 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) drives to the basket next to Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) in the third quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Rockets 115-106. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Rebounds & Put Back Dunks:

The Rockets above all have a commodity in Clint Capela as far as offensive rebounding.

Last season the young center ranked 7th in the league in offensive rebound rate.

NOTE: Offensive rebound rate (ORR) statistic measures the efficiency of a player gaining possession after a missed field goal.

Not only is his ORR great, but his ORR average is worthy of closer attention. In the 2015-16 season Capela ranked 25th in the NBA in offensive rebounding. However, if you take into account every player’s minutes on the court Clint played almost 2 minutes less than any other player ranked ahead of him.

Lastly, Capela remains a huge threat for put back opportunities. Many of these opportunities are generated from second chances Capela creates himself.

Amazing stat:

Quick finisher stat reveals in 87.6% of his opportunities Clint takes less than 2 seconds to attempt a field goal. He’s successful in 62% of those attempts. A stunning margin.

Next: Areas to Improve - Part 1

Jan 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) attempts a free throw during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Areas to Improve:

Free Throws

After a ludicrous 2014-2015 season in which Capela scored 17.4% of his free throws, last season he worked his way up to a still mediocre 37.9%.

However it does seem weird that Capela is not able to knock down his free throws. His mechanics on the charity stripe look decent and his release seems fine.

Perhaps it might be just a matter of time until Capela gets to an acceptable percentage. Nevertheless these improvements must come fast as the Houston Rockets ranked 27th in FT% for the past two seasons.

With the signings of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon that percentage is destined to improve dramatically.

To that end, subtracting Howard and adding these two competent free-throw shooters will definitely see this percentage climb north.

That said, Capela might be this year’s single “hack-a” destination in Houston, therefore he must be ready.

Next: Areas to Improve - Part 2

Mar 23, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Post Game and Frame:

To be fair, the young center did address this issue in his media day interview.  This has been an ongoing narrative which SCS writer Joshua Van Horn and I referred to in previous articles noting Capela’s frame problem.

On the other hand the Swiss center actually looks to be ready to take on NBA’s big men after adding some much needed weight and muscle.

While still a work in progress if sitting between 250-260 pounds he should be able to hold his own against NBA’s juggernauts like DeMarcus Cousins for example.

Capela seems to be taking steps in the right direction with the help of Johh Lucas. Conversely there are huge holes and gaps in his overall offensive game.

First of all the young center can’t expect to base his entire game on finishing James Harden’s alley-oops passes.

Granted as per Capela’s media day interview he sure seems confident that he is now able to knock down mid-range jumpers. Regardless, he must focus on being a weapon inside the post area first.

Whereas the Rockets have more than enough firepower from the outside, alternatively the team still lacks a big presence to finish plays inside the paint. Specifically someone who can knock down hook and turnaround shots. Because Donatas Motiejunas looks as good as gone from Houston, Clint should be ready to take on this extra challenge.

More importantly the Swiss center has a slender body and quickness that could allow him to be a monstrous player near the basket. Therefore the Rockets cannot afford to not add this weapon to their arsenal.

Next: Expectations for 2016-2017

Oct 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) attempts to get control of the ball away from Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) during the first half at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2016-2017 Outlook

Starting Role and Offense:

There’s nothing holding back Clint Capela now. In fact Houston Rockets fans have been waiting for the moment when the young stud takes on the starting role. In many ways Capela has always seemed predestined for the position.

If Mike D’Antoni is serious about recreating his Phoenix Suns style in Houston then Capela will assume the role of Amar’e Stoudemire. Likewise he’ll be asked to contribute in bunches. In this scenario his playing time will spike through the roof.

Expect Capela to play at least 30 minutes this season. In contrast don’t expect Capela’s offensive numbers to skyrocket that much.

On an extremely offensive oriented team Capela won’t be the first option. James Harden won’t have trouble distributing the ball since he is surrounded by talented shooters.

A conservative projection is that Capela will contribute in the range of double-digits between 10-13 points every night this year.

Next: Expectations Part 2

Mar 22, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket against Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran Influence and Defense:

On the other hand Capela will be Houston Rockets last line of defense. And although Capela is a good rim protector and decent shot blocker he still lacks the experience to hang with NBA center superstars.

Dec 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) drives to the basket as Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s likely that Capela will be clobbered by opposition in the first 10 to 20 games of the season. In contrast, as his body and conditioning adapts to the physicality required to play over 30-35 minutes presumably Capela will continuously improve defensively.

Learning how to use his body, position himself correctly inside the paint or predicting the opponents moves, Capela can do it all.

Another benefit will be the free agent addition of Brazilian powerhouse Nene. Capela needs to draw from Hilario’s experience and gather as much knowledge as possible. A 14 year veteran with an underrated array of defensive skills, Nene is exactly the kind of influence Clint Capela needs at this stage of his career.

Next: Predicting the Future

Mar 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) and forward Clint Capela (15) talk during a break in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Houston Rockets won 118-104. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In conclusion, regardless of projections and influences the most exciting aspect of the 22-year old center is his potential.

Realistically speaking with the young center’s ability to block, it’s reasonable to expect 2 blocks per night from Capela. Plus with his leaping skills it’s undeniable that Capela will be able to register over 10 rebounds almost every game.

More from Space City Scoop

There’s absolutely no way to predict how high Capela’s ceiling is. Rockets fans already know he will be a great player. John Lucas who has worked closely with Capela believes he can be an All-star.

Houston Rockets future lies in the hands of James Harden, there’s no question about it.

Even so, depending on what happens in the upcoming seasons he might very well be sharing it with the broad shoulders of the young stud from Switzerland: Clint Capela.

Next: Houston Rockets 2016-17 Player Profile: Corey Brewer

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