NBA Draft Profile: Switzerland's Clint Capela

NBA Draft Profile: Switzerland's Clint Capela
June 13, 2014, 10:30 am
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Clint Capela, 6-foot-10 power forward, Switzerland

2013-14 stats: (French League) 9.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg, .632 FG%, .582 FT%

A Swiss-born prospect who plays in France, Capela had significant buzz heading into April’s Nike Hoop Summit all-star game. But while his length, size, athleticism and other physical tools were apparent, it also became clear that Capela has a long way to go before turning his potential into production. Still, his upside as a shot-blocking presence, finisher, rebounder and mobile big man with the ability to run the floor in transition make him an intriguing draft-and-stash prospect, as he has years to go before he could make a real impact in the NBA.

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Career highlights: Just turning 20 in May, Capela sees a decent amount of playing time for Elan Chalon, his club team in the France’s top division, averaging 9.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 22 minutes per game, which is impressive given the nature of European professional basketball. Playing alongside former American college stars like Kris Joseph and Jon Brockman, both of whom have had stints in the NBA, Capela gradually moved into the team’s starting lineup early in the season, often playing against experienced competition a decade or more older than him and remaining an efficient scorer, shooting 63.2 percent from the field. Although he certainly had some expected ups and downs, Capela emerged as a regular threat to post a double-double, with monster games like a 21-point, nine-rebound, six-block, seven-assist performance, a 10-point, seven-rebound, three-block effort and a 22-point, 10-rebound, four-assist outing, as well as solid 12-point, five-rebound and 14-point, 10-board contests in his two matchups with fellow European draft prospect Jusuf Nurkic highlighting his campaign, which ended in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

Strengths: Capela’s high motor and activity level, in conjunction with his explosiveness, can already be utilized to make an impact on the game, despite his level of inexperience. He can run the floor with guards in transition, hit the offensive glass or roll to the basket in half-court situations to be a finisher, usually above the rim, as his quickness and length give him advantage in most matchups. Defensively, he can both alter and block shots, and has the potential to be able to switch onto perimeter players in pick-and-roll scenarios, as well as be a factor on the glass.

Weaknesses: Getting stronger and improving his understanding of the game through repetition are the biggest priorities for Capela at this stage of his career. Focusing on technique defensively, so that he doesn’t get into foul trouble and can be effective on that end of the floor is another area of improvement. If he can develop some basic go-to post moves, improve his shooting touch and free-throw shooting and perhaps become capable of knocking down short-range jumpers consistently, he can emerge as a more reliable individual scoring threat.

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Draft projection: As raw as he is, Capela is a first-round prospect and will likely be selected anywhere from the mid-teens to the early-20s, especially if he impresses in the pre-draft workout process, something that is very feasible, given his physical tools. As previously mentioned, it’s probable that he remains in Europe for a few more seasons, which would behoove the team that selects him, as he both gains experience and doesn’t impact the salary cap. Often compared to Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka, that might be Capela’s ceiling, but if he can even be half as effective, he can certainly be a solid, defensive-oriented, high-energy reserve with some offensive potential.

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