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Clint Capela has been dealing with a sore right shoulder this season

A nagging injury seems to be the cause of the big man’s slow start this season.

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

The cause of Clint Capela’s early season struggles might not be the best news Houston Rockets fans could have gotten, but at least now they have answers.

It was reported first on Wednesday night after the Rockets’ win over the short-handed Golden State Warriors that Houston’s big man has a nagging shoulder injury.

Unfortunately for everyone who benefits from Capela playing well, the injury just happens to affect the two of the most important things he does on the court.

It’s hard to truly mark Capela’s season so far as putrid, when really it’s been just inconsistent — there are games where he’s hardly on the floor. The center is averaging only 27.8 minutes a game, nearly a full six minutes lower than last season, even playing as little as 19 minutes in their matchup against Brooklyn. His numbers are down also, but they’re not bad, per se: 13.5 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 2 BPG (career-high), 61.3% FG%.

There are for sure times where he looks down-right ineffective, lost even, but his basketball-playing ability is still very much there. Now what we know he’s dealing with an injury, the lack of playing time and aggression is completely understandable. Playing at such a physical position with a nagging injury is no joke.

There is plenty of upside from Capela in the Rockets’ two-game winning streak, though. After back-to-back poor performances in which Capela played only 19 and 22 minutes, respectively, he went into Memphis and racked up 10 points and a season-high 13 rebounds in nearly 29 minutes. He then followed up that game with a stellar performance in the win against Golden State, scoring 19 points, a new season-high of 16 rebounds, shot 9-14 from the field, and recorded a career-high-tying 6 blocks, and did it in a season-high 35 minutes.

This situation as a whole is very unfortunate for Capela. He’s been on the wrong end of some harsh criticisms after subpar performances and questions of toughness. Just when he and everyone else were set to see him take the leap this season, he faced a minor setback with this injury. As of now, Capela has surely earned himself the benefit of the doubt. Last year, he very much proved his value after his return from injury and got the Rockets back into contending form. There’s no doubt that this team is better when he’s healthy and playing his role effectively.

As of now, the best thing to do for Capela is ensuring that he is healthy and ready to go come playoff push. There’s no reason to rush him.