Is Clint Capela the Houston Rockets Next Great Center?

With a storied lineage of legendary big men, is Clint Capela next in line to carry the Houston Rockets legacy of bigs?

Clearly Clint Capela was expected to fill the shoes of Dwight Howard’s departure. It was anticipated it may take some time for Capela to adjust and for the Rockets to recognize the benefit. But, to everyone’s surprise, the Houston Rockets have jumped out to a surprisingly good start to the season. At 5-3 they sit fourth in the West. Suffice to say the Rockets are far from the team that made them the laughing stock of a season ago.

Of course, with 74 games remaining in the season, it’s far too early to mention the Rockets among the elite teams in the Western Conference. Yet, after their most recent play, it is easy to see why one may put Houston among the top contenders in the West.

As James Harden continues to receive recognition for his astonishing play, Clint Capela‘s production on the court should not go unnoticed. After Dwight Howard left for his hometown of Atlanta, it was a clear indication that Capela was the next man up as his replacement.

In a season where the Rockets falled short of their championship aspirations, Capela’s performance was one of the few positives Houston could point to last season.

Even though he showed the qualities of a future all-star, there was still some doubt and uncertainties surrounding him. However, similar to the way Harden has proved all his doubters wrong as he reestablishes his superstar status. Capela has done a great job putting his doubters to rest early in the season.

Capela meets expectations:

Throughout Houston’s first eight games Capela has played the best basketball of his career. He is averaging 9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 62.7 percent from the field. He is living up to the expectations of filling the void left by Dwight Howard.

Even though he does not possess the ability to shoot mid-range jumpers or create his own shot on the low block, Capela has found his niche in Houston’s new fast paced offense.

Capela has flourished on the offensive end this season because Mike D’Antoni‘s offense is tailor-made for a big man of his stature. D’Antion’s offense has allowed Capela to run the floor in transition and catch lobs in order to have an impact on the offensive end. Similar to the offensive responsibilities of DeAndre Jordan.

Defensive Prowess:

Speaking of the responsibilities on Jordan, Capela now shares the same defensive role in Houston. His defensive performance has been his most impressing asset so far this season.

In Houston’s 114-106 victory over the Washington Wizards, it was Capela’s defensive play that put the Rockets over the top.

During the first quarter, the Wizards had a field day on the Rockets as they scored 20 of their 30 points inside in the paint. Washington’s Marcin Gortat got off to a fast start scoring six points in the first 12 minutes. Yet, once Capela picked up his intensity on the defensive end, the Wizards no longer scored another easy bucket.

Capela ended the game with a career-high four blocks, and Gortat struggled against Houston’s defensive stopper as he was held to two points for each of the following three-quarters.

Even though Capela defensive performance was huge against the Wizards, his best game came in the Rockets 101-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs. He held All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to 15 points. Additionally he played a huge factor in holding the Spurs to 39.3% percent from the field.

If Capela can continue to improve his game throughout the season, he will have a chance to enter his name among the NBA’s elite big men. In the interim his growth could be a factor for the Rockets who have set their sites on capturing that elusive NBA title.

And if all progresses as expected, the 22-year old Switzerland native may one day find his name among the Houston Rockets legacy of bigs.

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