Why Clint Capela is the most important player for the Rockets

Clint Capela, James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Clint Capela, James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Rockets are loaded with fire power, but an important question looms. Who is the biggest key to the success of the upcoming season? I believe the answer is Clint Capela.

Rockets fans, it is a pleasure to be with you once again. As we inch closer to the start of the season, a question has been gnawing at me. Who is the biggest key to the success of the season for the Rockets? The easy answers would be Russell Westbrook or James Harden. However, I think there is an even more important player to the Rockets success this season.

Clint Capela plays a vital role for this Rockets roster. Not only is he responsible for being a focal point on the defensive end, but his ability to operate the pick and roll is key for the success of the Rockets’ offense. In the 2018-2019 season, Capela averaged 16.6 points per game, 12.7 rebounds per game, and averaged 33.6 minutes per game.

When you take a look at Capela’s tenure with the Rockets, he has accomplished something that very few players have. His statistics, as it pertains to his points and rebounds per game, have improved year over year for every year he has been in the league. From the 2017-2018 to the 2018-2019 year, he improved his points per game from 13.9 to 16.6. His rebounds per game improved from 10.8 to 12.7 per game. For these efforts, the Rockets rewarded him with a lucrative extension, and he appears to not be resting on his laurels.

The Rockets have moved into the phase of their franchise that it is championship or bust. As everyone knows, playoff games are a completely different animal, as it compares to regular season games. In the 2018-2019 playoffs, Capela averaged 9.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. These are numbers that are good, but if the Rockets are going to have a chance at the title this year, he has to improve on these numbers.

When you look at the national narrative on Clint, one criticism of his game is that he struggled against the Warriors. Well, now that the Warriors are not the Warriors of yester-year, can he move into that conversation of one of the best centers in the league, who lacks a weakness in any aspect of his game?

As you examine the center position throughout the league, there are certainly not as many premiere big men, as there were say 15 years ago. However, they still have a very important role for NBA rosters. For example, take a look at the Los Angeles Lakers currently. They recently lost DeMarcus Cousins for the season, due to a Torn ACL. As noted by the LA Times, they are scrambling for a big man to replace Cousins, and are trying out the likes of Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, and Marreese Speights.

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Yes, without James Harden and Russell Westbrook playing at an extremely high level, the Rockets are not going to be able to win their 3rd NBA Title. However, Clint Capela serves just as important of a role to this roster. His ability to impact both ends of the court will serve as an X-Factor, and the scary part is, I think this guy can get even better. Have a great weekend Rockets fans, and as always, GO ROCKETS!!