Clint Capela’s star is rising

— November 14th 2017

Clint Capela has blossomed into a core two-way contributor for the Rockets and with continued growth he has a chance to become one of the league’s best bigs.

By Dylan Hughes

On his team and at his position, continuing to lurk is Clint Capela. Since arriving to the NBA in 2014-15, the Houston Rockets have been the James Harden show. And once upon a time, Dwight Howard got some shine, too.

As a center, when talking about the ascending young players in the league, it’s Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic, Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner. Rarely is Capela’s name mentioned.

Capela isn’t a flashy player. He’s a rim runner and a shot blocker. He doesn’t have three-point range, crazy handles or an incredible passing acumen like some of the other young bigs mentioned. In his role, though, playing with Harden, Capela has a chance to grow into one of the league’s most effective bigs.

Instead of being a “unicorn,” Capela is getting it done in a more traditional way: around the basket. Like DeAndre Jordan and Rudy Gobert–two guys in the conversation as the league’s best center–Capela is going to do three things: dunk, rebound and block shots.

He does all of those things very well.

Rim Running

The vast majority–86 percent–of Capela’s shot attempts come at the rim, and he’s shooting 75 percent on those shots, according to Cleaning The Glass.

With a facilitator and pick-and-roll genius like Harden at the helm, Capela gets some great opportunities at easy points.

Teams get so distracted with Harden’s dribbling that it sometimes frees up Capela for uncontested dunks.

Harden often knows exactly when and where to toss it, even if it is almost a full court heave.

Obviously a ton of Capela’s looks come from Harden–38 percent of the passes he received last season came from Harden, and he shot 75 percent off of those passes–but give him credit for catching the lobs and finishing through contact at such an efficient clip. It isn’t always just an easy slam.


Capela is averaging 11.5 rebounds per game this season, up from 8.1 last year. The biggest jump has come on the defensive end of the court, where Capela is rebounding 32.5 percent of opponent’s missed shots, 99th percentile among bigs (via Cleaning The Glass).

In today’s spaced out game, many rebounds come uncontested. Not all of them do, however, and it’s nice to have someone willing to box out and fight for position to create more possessions for the offense.

Boxing out is a fundamental of the game, but not all players do it–especially the younger ones. It’s nice to see Capela look for his man–Turner–here to make sure he isn’t able to get the offensive board.

Rim Protection

Capela is blocking 3.9 percent (92nd percentile) of opponent’s shots this season, a career-high. His average of 1.9 blocks per game currently ranks fifth in the league, placing him just behind elite shot blockers like Gobert, Anthony Davis, Porzingis and Kevin Durant (!!).

Capela does a great job here staying in front of Kevin Love and keeping his hand up.

Here’s another attempt from Love, and he gets a fierce swat in return.

In the final moments vs. Cleveland and LeBron James working his way to the rim, Capela is able to block his shot from behind.

The Rockets starting lineup has a defensive rating of just 100.9, and the team as a whole is at 101.9–seventh in the league. A lot of that has to do with their man in the middle.

While Capela is no sharpshooter or crazy passer, he gets it done and is a key cog in the Rockets’ offense and defense. With him at Harden’s disposal, Houston has a shot at blowing any team in the league off the floor.

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