Clint Capela has never been named a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Could this be the year that changes?
For starters, let’s take a look at the finalists last year, which were Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Paul George. Personally I’m not expecting George to be a finalist again because I think he’s going to split votes with his own teammates Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard. I also think Giannis was an anomaly as his own teammate Brook Lopez had more blocks and steals than him, yet Lopez wasn’t considered for the award. I think Giannis will fall victim to voter’s fatigue in the same way Harden was robbed of the MVP. Clint Capela missed 15 games last season but still finished inside the top 20 in total blocks in the league. Of the players on that list, Capela missed the 4th most games. Based on his blocks average per game, if Capela managed to stay healthy, he would have finished 9th in total blocks, which would have been ahead of Antetokounmpo.
In the 2017-2018 season, Capela had 137 blocks, which was the second most in the league behind only Anthony Davis, who was then a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. You can make the argument that Capela has been snubbed by the national media, especially that year. Capela finished 14th in the voting results, as he had 3 total votes, which were all third place votes.
The eventual winner was Rudy Gobert, despite the fact that Capela had more blocks and steals than Gobert that year. The one element Capela unfortunately can’t contend with is the popularity angle, which unfortunately does exist in the voting for these awards. Capela just always seems to go under the radar.
But the question of whether Capela will be a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award this year is a valid question based on the numbers he’s put up over the past 2 years. You have to remember, the question isn’t whether or not Capela will WIN the award, its whether he will be one of the three finalists. I actually think this is the year, because I believe Capela will play good enough this season to be named a finalist. Granted, I’m expecting Gobert to win the award again because of the popularity contest I mentioned, but if Capela has more blocks and steals than him again this year, he can’t be denied again as a finalist.
Either way, the Rockets will surely need him to anchor the paint and protect the rim.