The Houston Rockets are known for having a lot of player movement in the offseason, but one player, besides James Harden, that has survived the numerous summer shakeups has been Clint Capela.
With the Rockets being less than three weeks away from opening their preseason against the Shanghai Sharks, now seems like a good time to remind Rockets’ fans why Clint Capela has survived through so many offseasons and why the 2019-20 NBA season could be the best of his career.
There is no way to go around Capela’s pitiful performance at the end of the 2019 NBA playoffs. Many NBA fans, both locally and nationally, mocked the young center for calling out the Golden State Warriors in a postgame conference following the series-clinching game against the Utah Jazz, only to have the worst playoff series of his career.
As bad optically as that six-game sample size was, it is not fair to judge Capela based on that series alone.
During this offseason, many Houston fans seemed to be prisoners of the “what have you done for me lately” mentality and Capela became an expendable asset in the minds of many.
However, that mindset is not a good one to have when one looks at Capela’s full body of work.
Since becoming a starter for the Rockets after Dwight Howard‘s departure in 2016, Capela has improved in every crucial category from year to year.
In 2016-17, Capela’s first full season as a starter, he averaged 12.6 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and had a 63.8 true shooting percentage.
In 2017-18, Capela increased his averages to 13.9 points per game, 10.8 rebounds and had a 65 TS percentage.
In 2018-19, Capela’s numbers jumped again to 16.6 points per game, 12.7 rebounds and a 65.8 TS percentage.
Now in 2019-20, Capela will have a new teammate who loves to push the pace in Russell Westbrook.
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As Rockets’ fan know well, Westbrook excels at crashing the boards. “The Brodie” uses this skillset to spark fast break opportunities.
One of Capela’s biggest strengths is rim-running in transition and Rockets’ fans should expect a lot of flashy alley-oop opportunities in 2019-20.
Another reason to expect for Westbrook to help fuel a break-out year for Capela is because Westbrook has already done it in the past.
When Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City in the summer of 2016, it gave Westbrook full control of the Thunder’s offense.
As a result, Thunder big-man Steven Adams saw a jump in his numbers with Westbrook in charge.
In 2015-16, OKC’s last year with “KD,” Adams averaged only eight points per game.
In 2016-17, the first year with Westbrook in complete control of the offense, Adams’ numbers jumped to 11.3 points per game with a 58.9 TS%.
In 2017-18, Adams’ numbers raised to 13.9 points per game with a 63 TS%.
Capela’s steady and consistent improvement is why he has remained a Rocket alongside Harden for multiple years. 2019-20 should be no exception.