Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has high hopes for Clint Capela.
Really high hopes.
Speaking with ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon, D’Antoni indicated that the 23-year-old from Switzerland has the chance to be the best center in the league, bar none:
“To me, it’s just a matter of time,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t become, if not the best center in the league, one of outhe best. I’ll be shocked.”
Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid and, if the New York Knicks ever come to their senses, Kristaps Porzingis just shuddered a little.
Capela won’t have much of an opportunity to be the NBA’s absolute best 5-man. That honor will be reserved for higher-usage bigs, all of who will probably shoot threes. But he could be the billboard for how non-shooting skyscrapers thrive in today’s space-drunk league—not unlike Gobert and DeAndre Jordan.
If you’re not going to be the next Embiid or Cousins or Porzingis, you might as well be a strong rim-runner, quality paint protector, good rebounder and, most importantly, competent stopper in space. Capela has the physical tools to do all those things. He’s already a great pick-and-roll finisher who doesn’t try branching out his role; his rebounding is fine; he’s a pretty good rim protector; and he has the lateral gait to pester people outside the paint.
Post-up defense against burlier brutes, such as Cousins, will be one area in which he needs to improve. He’s not weak, per se, but he is spindly. Physical bigs will give him a tough time on the low block.
Fortunately for him, and the Rockets, the NBA has moved away from those back-to-the-basket shots. And the center position in general is gravitating away from outright behemoths, emphasizing hybrid combinations of finesse and explosion. Capela fits that mold—so much so the Rockets better be ready to pony up some serious cash when he hits restricted free agency this summer.