Clint Capela is Emerging as an Elite NBA Big Man

capela

After acquiring Chris Paul in an offseason trade, the Houston Rockets made one thing very clear – they are ready to take their shot at the Golden State Warriors as the top team in the Western Conference.

So far, the one-two punch of Chris Paul and James Harden has been about as phenomenal as we could expect, while the Rockets are right behind the Warriors at 25-7. However, one of the biggest reasons for the Rockets success so far has come from a somewhat surprising source – Clint Capela.

The fourth-year big man from Switzerland has slowly been developing into one of the most efficient centers in the NBA, as evidenced by his improvements in nearly every counting statistic over the past four seasons:

stats_

Capela has raised his effective field goal percentage every season and is ranked first in the NBA at 69.1% this season. On the defensive end, Capela has grabbed 48.1% more rebounds per game than he did in 2016-2017.

Capela’s stock has continued to rise throughout the season. From a DFS perspective, Capela’s price across the industry started around $6,000 but it has slowly crept up towards the $8,000-range. If we look at the numbers, it is easy to see why. His emergence on both sides of the ball has put him among elite company in win shares per 48 minutes.

ws per 48

Being sandwiched between MVPs and All-NBA talent is certainly no joke. So how exactly has Clint Capela taken his game to this type of level?

There are several factors but one clearly rises above the rest. Pick and roll offense.

As the beneficiary of Houston’s pick and roll game which is ranked 8th in frequency, Clint Capela has run 35.1% of the team’s offensive possessions as the roll man. In these sets, he is ranked 3rd in the NBA at 5.7 points per game as a roll man and has a ridiculous 72.2% effective field goal percentage.

As pick and roll ball handlers, Harden and Paul are two of the best in the game. James Harden has run 38.9% of the team’s pick and roll sets and is ranked 6th in the NBA in scoring from pick and rolls at 9.9 PPG. However, Harden’s field goal percentage of 38.9% off pick and rolls equates to opportunities for Capela on the offensive glass, where is he ranked 6th in the NBA at 3.3 offensive rebounds per game.

Harden and Paul are also both elite passers, ranked 2nd and 4th respectively in assists per game this season. As defenders focus their attention on these premier ball handlers, Capela is getting a ton of easy looks on the offensive end and ranks second in the NBA with 92 dunks on the season.

Chris Paul has run 44.9% of the team’s pick and roll sets as the primary ball handler and ranks in the 79.5th percentile in overall efficiency. As seen in Paul’s time with the Clippers, centers are typically the biggest beneficiaries of Paul’s elite ball handling and passing in pick and roll sets.

Here’s a look at DeAndre Jordan’s effective field goal percentage from Chris Paul’s last 5 seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers:

d.jordan

So, it is no surprise that in Chris Paul’s first season with the Rockets, Clint Capela ranks 1st in the NBA with a 69.1% effective field goal percentage.

Of the 8.9 field goal attempts per game that Capela is averaging this season, 8.0 per game have come within 5 feet of less, which ranks 5th in the NBA. His boost in fantasy production has come from his league leading efficiency with these opportunities. Capela’s 12.28 points per game in the paint is also 5th in the NBA, which puts him in elite company:

points in the paint

The numbers clearly show that Clint Capela has taken a giant leap forward this season. While his price has steadily increased in DFS, it has certainly been warranted by just how efficient he has been in the paint and on the glass. Whether or not he is capable of keeping up this level of efficiency remains to be seen but one thing is certain: surrounded by elite players and an offense that thrives in the pick and roll – Clint Capela is emerging as a star in Houston.

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