Drafted by: Houston Rockets, No. 25 overall pick
After making noise in the French League for his club Chalon, Swiss youngster Clint Capela earned a strong NBA draft stock.
His end-to-end mobility and condor-like wingspan make him one of the best international big men in the 2014 crop, as he covers a ton of ground horizontally and vertically.
While his statistics aren't robust, he passes the eye test as a potential rebounding machine and at-the-rim scorer in the NBA. Capela's size and athleticism will make him difficult to contain as he polishes his skills.
He's a risky pick because he's so raw, but if his game matures, he'll be more than worthy of his draft status.
Few prospects have measurables that compare to Capela's. He's 6'11" in shoes and owns a 7'4.5" wingspan, which means his size alone can finish plays, corral rebounds and contest shots in Europe.
It gets better, though. Capela is quite fast for a 6'11" player, so he'll be able to outrun most NBA bigs in transition. And when he gets in position to score, he puts his length to good use by bouncing up effortlessly for tip-ins, alley-oops and dunks.
He registered a 31.5" vertical leap at the 2013 Eurocamp, per DraftExpress.com, but the eye test shows he's improved upon that.
Considering his mix of size and athleticism, he'll be able to guard and attack both centers and power forwards in the NBA.
Capela is a nightmare for foes in transition. All too often, his man can't keep up with him, and the help defenders are too small or to slow to prevent him from destroying the rim.
NBADraft.net scout Rick Pietro described the Swiss hammer's open-floor dominance:
Capela is as good as any athlete ever coming from Europe ... What really separates him is his explosiveness around the rim ... He isn't scared of contact and can really finish above the rim with one of two hands ... He also can really run the floor on finding easy layups and dunks in transition.
This end-to-end prowess is part of the reason he looks like a longer version of Kenneth Faried.
We've seen a sampling of his pick-and-roll exploits for Chalon, and it's exciting to think about what he could bring to the NBA.
Because he can elevate and score with his right or left, he's a great candidate to roll toward the rim and make plays. Capela can snatch the ball like a football wide receiver and explode once he gets within the relative vicinity of the hoop.
As his footwork and awareness become sharper, he'll be even more dangerous when setting screens. For now, he'll have to settle for being an absolute monster on lobs and defensive miscues.
The Dirty Work: Defense and Rebounding Potential
Already a proficient rebounder at age 20, Capela could impact the game in a big way if he crashes the glass on both ends. His springiness, instincts and great hands are the other reason why he draws comparisons to Faried.
If he can put some more weight on and push around NBA forwards, he could gobble up boards on both ends. He'll be the type of player who's extremely difficult to box out thanks to his quickness and long arms.
Defensively, Capela's not always in the right spot, but when he is, he's a dynamic shot-blocker. He showcased some rim protection overseas and at the 2014 Nike Hoops Summit.
DraftExpress.com video analyst Mike Schmitz noted that Capela owns a "quick first and second jump" and that he shows "good timing for his age."
Because he's in the early stages of developing as a true post player, Capela has weaknesses all over the place.
Let's start with his approach to the game, which lacks consistent energy. Pietro noticed some unnerving habits:
[Capela] should be an absolute monster due to his physical attributes but can lack aggressiveness on both ends of the court ... Instead he shows laziness, playing behind opposing big men in the post when he should fight to deny entry pass or simply not getting into a low defensive stance on the perimeter.
His offensive repertoire is meager, as he can't really create his own shot or play away from the rim. His ball-handling skills are extremely raw and so is his jump-shooting deftness. If it's not a gift-wrapped catch-and-leap bucket around the rim, he's probably not scoring.
Capela is also still in the learning phase defensively, where he gets by largely on athleticism. When he's guarding the ball, his footwork is subpar, and he lacks discipline when challenging opponents. Away from the ball, he's not always in an optimal help-side location.
Lastly, he could use an extra 15-20 pounds of muscle to become more effective on both ends.
Capela's initial influence in the NBA will be minimal or nonexistent depending on whether he joins the league or stays overseas for a year or two.
Either way, he has a lot of polishing to do skill-wise and a lot of learning to do in the film room. Capela's offense is mostly opportunistic, so he would only have a peripheral role off the bench.
It would be foolish to simply assume Capela will vastly expand his game. Even if he does noticeably improve, he's probably not going to generate much offense off the dribble or shoot from long range.
However, he could sharpen up just a few key low-post moves and become a huge asset in the rotation. If his squad could feed him the ball in the post just a couple of times per half, it would be a huge boost. Combine that with his pick-and-roll skills and transition play, and you're looking at a potential starter.
These projections are also based on the assumption that he'll mature and develop through coaching and repetition. If he can play smarter on the defensive end and more skillfully on offense, he could average a double-double and enjoy a long career.
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