Well the NBA season is in full swing we’ve had some headline stuff to feed on already. Ben Simmons is the real deal and looks to be completely destroying the losing culture that may have infected the 76ers. The Boston Celtics have completely taken over the East with their stellar defense and the individual brilliance of Kyrie Irving and Lonzo Ball looks like he needs his dad to shut up and let his son realize that he has a lot to work on.
Other teams have been as good as expected; The Warriors are at the top of the West because they simply have too much firepower to deal with, and the Houston Rockets are still firing on all cylinders from beyond the arc.
The addition of Chris Paul from the LA Clippers this summer was meant to push the Rockets to a level where they would be able to battle with the Warriors in a 7 game series, but an injury to CP3 in Houston’s first game has meant that the Rockets are very similar to what they were last year where their whole system was built around James Harden and a barrage of shots from the outside.
The Rockets last year went 55-27 and are 12-4 this season as of 16/11/17. Who knows what will happen when Paul returns. Will he be able to effectively contribute to the system or will his ball-dominant nature completely disrupt it? For that only time will tell. But one thing is sure - Clint Capela will benefit because Paul is one of the best point guards and with pick and roll, we can expect more alley-oops or easy points for the young center.
For now, the Rockets are just concentrating on winning. James Harden is balling out which to be expected, but I’d then argue that their 3rd most important player is the guy who takes only the 5th amount of shots per game, and that is Clint Capela.
James Harden is one of the best scorers in the league today because he combines great shooting from the outside with a terrific ability to get into the paint and either finish or get the line. In order for him to do this he needs his teammates to set up the opponent's defense so that he has a much floor space as possible to minimise any shot-blocking presence at the rim, and Capela is the Rocket’s guy who allows Harden to get into the paint.
A good screen completely seals the ball handler's man to create a 2 on 1 scenario and due to excess floor-spacing, it is very hard for their to be any help defense. Capela has become a master at doing this and then reading how to roll to the rim so that Harden can either pass to him or finish the play himself.
The Rockets yet again look set to lead the NBA in 3 point attempts and makes per game. The hit over 15 per game and take nearly 45. All these high arcing shots mean a lot of rebounds that are available and Capela has taken advantage.
Capela is averaging a career-high 11.5 rebounds a game, a fact made even more impressive when you consider that he’s only playing 26 minutes a night. He's also grabbing 3.5 offensive rebounds which allows more possessions for his team and more opportunities for 3 pointers to go down.
The Rockets aren’t known for a team that plays great defense, but Capela has made a very big impact defensively when he’s on the floor. Of the top 15 players in the league this season in terms of blocks per game Capela is 9th in NBA but is playing nearly 3 minutes a game less than anyone else on that list.
He is able to defend the rim effectively with his time on the floor, as shown by his impressive defensive rating of 99 which ranks him 15th in the league. The Rockets need guys who are going to make it their business to defend and Capela is their guy to defend against opposing bigs.
2. Doesn’t need the ball in his hands
With James Harden being so brilliant in the pick and roll and with CP3 set to return sometime soon, the Rockets need guys whose skillset can effectively contribute to NBA wins without having the ball in their hands.
If every player on your team needs the ball in their hands to be effective then only one player can be effective at any given time because there is only one ball. Guys who are effective without the ball are always effective and the Rockets have a lot of guys who don’t need to dribble a lot in order to be effective. These are the spot up shooters that spread the floor with their mere presence, and Capela who defends, sets screen and always gives a lob option for drivers to the rim.
Offense, offense, offense. That is the mantra and ethos of today’s NBA, mainly because we the spectators enjoy seeing better offense rather than better defense. The pace of the game has hugely increased over the past 30 years, partly because we love offense but also because the 3 pointer has spread the floor meaning shots like layups and dunks are much easier to take.
Players that shoot a high percentage from the field are unbelievably valuable as they can score efficiently against NBA defenses and they don’t need to take many shots to get their team points. Capela has the highest field goal percentage in the league and is shooting nearly 70%.
He finds his spots amongst the other players in the Rocket’s offensive system which then not only doesn’t take away from his teammates but adds to them as your gravity opens up more opportunities for them. Capela also leads the NBA in offensive rating at 133.5 because when he’s on the floor his skillset translates into tonnes of point being scored for his team.