Yesterday, the NBA announced a rule change that alters the "hack-a" strategy that teams employ on poor free throw shooters. According to the report:
"The NBA has decided to extend the current rule for away-from-the-play fouls applicable to the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and any overtime to the last two minutes of each period. "
NBA commissioner Adam Silver claims this change will reduce away-from-the-play fouls as much as 45 percent. What that means for the Rockets (and other notable teams such as the Clippers, Hawks and Pistons) is that they no longer have to pull their poor-shooting big man at the close of periods. The "hack-a" strategy will be no longer employable.
That's good news for Clint Capela and his career 35.9 percent from the free throw line. The Rockets' starting center's minute per game projections just ticked upward, and though he won't be playing 36 minutes a night, last year's per 36 averages give you framework for the type of production we'll hopefully see from Capela: 13.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks on 58.2 percent shooting. If he can somehow get his free throw percentage up as well, we could see the blossoming of a fine player.
Improving overall, but particularly from the line, has been one of Capela's main offseason goals. It was just reported that he's been spending the offseason working alongside former Rocket and new team director of development John Lucas, who's been making Capela shoot 500 free throws per day. Lucas told Jonathan Feigen about their work together:
"Getting his free throw fixed, that's a big key. We're working on that, trying to establish some confidence. His athleticism is off that chart, but he's much more than an athlete playing basketball. Now obviously we're not there, but his confidence about it is there. He has the capability to shoot some sky hooks and use his athleticism and length. In the lane, he's really going to be a great rim protector."
Capela was great off of the pick and roll last year, shooting 68.4 percent off the play and scoring 1.17 points per possession on 101 roll attempts (10 more than Dwight Howard). If he can continue to add some nuance to his game under Lucas' tutelage and continue to improve his free throws, all the while staying on the court a potential 6 minutes longer while those new skills develop, the sky could be the limit for the Swiss Roll.
"He hasn't even tapped his potential yet. As long as he is willing to learn on and off the court, he has a chance to be a special player."