Moving on up, oh yes he's moving on up. Houston Rockets center Clint Capela is rated as ESPN's 12th-best international NBA player. A far climb for the third-year pro from Switzerland, who was No. 32 just a season ago.
ESPN, and now the rest of the NBA, is starting to catch on to just how good he has become, and how he is now positioned to blast off. With a big year (which very well could happen) he more than likely should bust into the top 10 of international players in the 2017 list.
Capela this year is rated just ahead of Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, which is some high praise for the Rockets' 2014 first round draft pick. Gasol and Capela are at different points in their respective careers, but it goes to show, people are starting to take notice. The rankings are based on project Wins Above Replacement Player for 2016-2017. The Rockets' other international, Donatas Motiejunas, does not appear on the list (although this may be a result of his still being a free agent).
The list does have a few other centers rated higher than the Rockets big man. The Orlando Magic's Nikola Vucevic, the Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas, the Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert and also head-scratchingly enough the Minnesota Timberwolves Gorgui Dieng.
While the Timberwolves are an upcoming team, Dieng is not a very big part of its offense. Capela doesn't have much of an offensive game yet, but he will have plenty of chances to catch a bunch of lobs from James Harden. It would seem when projecting for next year, Capela should have a bigger impact on his team than Dieng for his.
Capela is now about to reap the fruits of his hard work. With the Rockets not bringing in any starting caliber big men to fill the void left by Dwight Howard in free agency, the starting center spot is all his.
Every year since the Rockets drafted him in 2014, he has grown (literally) and continued to add to his game. But there is still plenty of room for Capela to improve. If he can add any sort of a back to the basket game and clean up his awful free throw shooting, it would easily thrust him into the top 10 next season.
As of now, the ultra-athletic 22-year-old will give the team plenty of dunks and defense.