The Houston Rockets were unable to make the big-splash move to acquire four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler this offseason, but they have managed to retain most of the core from last season’s playoff team.
Although the 2019 Houston Rockets were eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals, one round earlier than the 2018 team, the core of players returning had the second-best record in the NBA since Christmas day.
A big key-player for the Rockets during their 2019 run was Clint Capela, who struggled significantly in the series against the Golden State Warriors and was a big reason why Houston lost the series.
Before the series began, Capela stated, “We want the Warriors.”
His performance, however, was not up-to-par with his eagerness which caused many fans in Houston to become frustrated with Capela after the team gave him an $85 million extension the year prior.
Capela averaged 8.8 points and was a -7.8 when on the floor for Houston in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Over the offseason, Capela seemed to be the odd-man-out in the Rockets’ plans for the future as he was rumored to be on the trade market and at one-point, it was reported that the Rockets had found a team willing to trade for him if Houston was indeed chosen by Jimmy Butler.
With Butler choosing Miami, it appears that the team will not make a drastic change to their roster for the foreseeable future which now leaves the 2019-20 season as somewhat of a break-or-make season for Capela.
While the Rockets have Capela under contract until 2023, Daryl Morey is not known for keeping players who cannot produce on a consistent basis when the main goal is to win at all costs. Just look at how quickly he shipped out James Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams.
While most Rockets’ fans have a negative opinion on Capela at the moment, they are victims of recency bias, and Capela is still one of the best young bigs in the league.
In the 2018 playoffs against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz, Capela averaged 14.4 points while being a +8.6 when on the floor for the Rockets.
The issue for Capela has been matching up with the Warriors. The main reason for the struggles is because of how great Golden State has been the past few years.
Capela struggled to have to go out on the perimeter and guard Draymond Green, who is an elite point-forward, or when he switched onto Golden State’s guards, whom are elite shooters and can drive to the basket at a high level.
Despite these match-up struggles, Capela will have a great chance to prove that he is worth every single penny of his huge extension as the Rockets will now have more foes to compete with.
Houston will likely have to battle the likes of Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside, Jusuf Nurkic, and Rudy Gobert to achieve their ultimate goal. For Capela, he seems to perform better in a traditional big-to-big head-to-head matchup, and he will have plenty of those duels in a stacked Western Conference.
The 2019-20 season will be one where Capela will get a chance to right his wrongs. He is a valuable piece to the Rockets puzzle, and this upcoming season will be the best chance Houston has to finally complete it.