Clint Capela is an athletic big man whose game and frame are still developing. But could his lack of polish and attitude issues keep him from realizing his potential?
Team: Chalon Sur Saone (France)
Position: Power Forward/Center
Data Courtesy DraftExpress.com
Clint Capela initially projected as a potential lottery pick based on his age (20), athleticism, and potential upside. Unfortunately for him, a very unpolished showing at the Nike Hoop Summit (including 4 fouls in his first 7 minutes) in April tamped down those expectations. He also chose not to participate in the NBA Draft Combine, which may have allowed him to showcase his physical gifts (note the lack of measurables above). As such, the international phenom is now being forecast as a late first rounder, which may end up being a bargain for a patient team with multiple picks.
Capela is able to use his length and explosive athleticism to be a beast at the rim on both ends of the floor. While his defensive footwork needs to develop, he is a capable and authoritative shot blocker, averaging 3.2 blocks per 40 minutes. He has a high motor that allows him to work well in transition, beating opposing big men down the floor.
His quick jumping ability makes him a proficient rebounder as well, averaging 13 rebounds per 40 minutes. 4.1 of those rebounds come on the offensive end. He has been described by multiple scouts as "bouncy" which makes me thing of Shawn Marion's jumping jack type of ability. Draft Express particularly notes his nose for the ball.
Offensively, Capela is primarily a finisher at the rim. His 63.2 regular season and 71.8 Eurocup field goal percentages speak for themselves. His giant hands (10 inches long by 9.6 inches wide) and aforementioned leaping ability contribute to his effectiveness scoring out of the pick and roll. He could be lethal if paired with a good P & R point guard.
Not surprisingly for a 20 year old man who is almost 7 feet tall, Capela needs to add strength and bulk to compete as a big man in the NBA. As it stands now, he has a tendency to get banged around down low and relies primarily on his hops and motor to get rebounds and blocks. Furthermore, his offensive game and defensive footwork are also raw like a freshly plucked chicken.
In addition to being a poor jump shooter, Capela has no post or back-to-the-basket game to speak of. Offensively speaking, he's a one-trick pony finishing at the rim on putbacks, transition buckets and the pick-and-roll. There is no consistent jump shot or other tool in his toolbox. And for a rim finisher, his free throw numbers need a lot of work as in regular season and Eurocup play, he hovered around 50%.
Defensively, he also trades primarily on his athleticism. He can get lost off the ball and sometimes over-anticipates block opportunities leading to avoidable fouls. When paired with elite international competition at the Nike Hoop Summit, this resulted in his picking up 4 fouls in 7 minutes. His slight frame also can result in his getting pushed around by veteran players.
There are also questions about his attitude. He shies away from physical contact and does not like to battle under the hoop. While he possesses great motor, he doesn't always run hard on the floor. NBADraftInsider.net described his play at the Nike Hoop Summit as looking "lethargic on the court playing with very little energy and effort for the first three quarters", while Draft Express notes negative intangibles like lazinessand a tendency to stand around on the court. Maybe these are coachable, maybe these are untenable red flags. Some lucky coach will soon find out.
Clint Capela will be a home run swing for whichever NBA team ends up drafting him. If all those negatives turn out to be coachable, then a player with his athletic gifts has a ceiling of someone like Serge Ibaka. However, if his deficiencies persist, he could end up as Bismack Biyombo 2.0, but with an attitude problem to boot. The answer lies probably somewhere in the middle with Capela ending up as a defensive and rebounding specialist with limited offensive tools (think Ben Wallace, or the poor man's version thereof).
I think Capela is a tantalizing prospect for the Phoenix Suns. He's got the ability to get up and down the floor quickly and provides much needed rebounding help. As a 20 year-old European, he's got draft-and-stash written all over him, especially now that he can be stashed either overseas or in Bakersfield. However, with one project big man on the roster already, do the Suns need a second? And while there's a lot to like about his game, words like "lazy" and "lethargic" give me serious pause. This Suns team has been marked by high character, high IQ and high energy, which are not immediately apparent in Capela's game.
If he were projecting as a second rounder, I'd say this is a no-brainer. Even with the 27th pick, I like Capela as a low-risk, high-reward developmental experiment. However if the Suns pick him at 14 or 18, I would just have to trust that Ryan McDonough and company know a lot more about basketball than I do.*
*PS - they do!