Should the Sixers call the name of Clint Capela on draft night, few fans will have seen him play. Born in Switzerland and playing in France since 2009, Capela is a name that many recognize but few are familiar with.
That's something that may not change for a few years. Despite his incredible physical and athletic gifts, Capela has some significant development, both physically and in terms of basketball skill, before he's going to be able to play NBA minutes. His strength, both upper and lower body, are severely lacking. His recognition, offensively and defensively, is still in its infancy. His decision making leaves something to be desired. He's going to need plenty of time, either in the D-League or overseas. So what's there to like?
The physical profile is a good place to start. Standing 6'11", with a 7'4.5" wingspan and a 9'2.5" standing reach, Capela boasts a physical profile as good as any prospect in the draft. On top of the length, he moves extremely fluidly for a man of his size, and is incredibly quick off of his feet. Weakside help defense, rotations, pick and roll defense, getting back in transition. The physical profile is there to be an impact defender.
But his physical profile creates potential beyond just the defensive side of the court. Capela has soft hands and very good touch around the hoop, creating potential as a pick and dive threat as well as a face-up threat, if his jump shot should ever become a weapon. That's a fairly big if at this point, as Capela attempted very few jump shots, and made even less, and he connected on a horrid 47.6% of his free throw attempts. He was able to beat big men off the dribble in France's Pro A league but, even with a superb first step and excellent fluidity, he'll struggle to do so in the NBA if defenders don't have to respect his jump shot.
He also contributes on the glass, pulling down an excellent 13.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. His strength will once again have to catch up with his talent, as his lower body strength is severely lacking and he struggles to hold ground. But his nose for the ball, along with his willingness and aggressiveness in looking to box his man out, creates a strong base for his potential as a rebounder.
There's certainly a fair amount of risk in Clint Capela, who just turned 20 last month. Those looking for contributions sooner rather than later will definitely be disappointed. However, should Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie look to combine assets, move up into the late first round, and take a swing on a big man that he can stash overseas and potentially nurture into an impact player, Capela is a guy he could take a gamble on.
And stashing overseas could be something Hinkie looks to do. The reason to stash Capela would not necessarily be because of the impact Capela's contract would have on the cap, as the 25th pick in the draft would be slotted at under $1 million next season, hardly a dent in the cap space Hinkie and company have created. Nor is it necessarily solely for developmental purposes, as there are valid arguments to be made both for using the D-League or staying in Europe as a developmental tool. But, by having Capela continue to play overseas, Sam Hinkie would delay the start of Capela's rookie contract, delay bringing him over here until he's ready to contribute, and delay having to make a decision on an extension until Capela has been able to play substantial NBA minutes.
There are likely to be players available that are more proven than Clint Capela should the Sixers look to move into the late first round, but there are few that will have more talent. With a plethora of assets and the lack of a need for an immediate return on his investment, Hinkie may be in a position to swing for the fences, and Capela could be an intriguing opportunity to do so.
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