What Clint Capela means to the young Atlanta Hawks roster

Clint Capela was the starting big for the Houston Rockets until they went completely small and changed their entire lineup. The Rockets sent their big man to Atlanta in a four-team trade in February. 

In 2019-20, the Swiss-born center averaged 13.9 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. Capela sat out the second half of the year due to injuries. Now healthy, his immediate impact will include the nightly role of a double-double machine and strong interior defense.

The Hawks ranked dead last in points allowed last season and allowed opponents to have the fifth-highest field-goal percentage in the league. Capela will help bolster those abysmal numbers and help Atlanta become a better defensive team. 

The team lacked a player with shot-blocking ability for much of the last few years, and the change will benefit them well on that end.

Offensively, Capela is great for lobs, which bodes well for Trae Young when he slashes to the rim, and the defense collapses on him. On the other end, Capela’s ability to roll off screens will also allow Young to have more plays where the defense does not switch in time, leading to uncontested shots.

The Hawks’ center position has been an area of concern ever since Dwanye Dedmon left for the Kings in free agency a few years back. Now Capela can solidify the position. 

Being a veteran in this league, Capela can provide a great mentor for the younger players, especially Young. Veteran leadership can help mature players quicker and emphasize what is most important, which is winning.

Capela has been on winning teams with Houston and was even a game away from advancing to the NBA Finals a few years ago, which bodes well for a team still trying to figure out how to win consistently.

“We must mature to the point that we can prove we are a real team and get a playoff spot,” Capela said. 

Another great aspect that Capela adds is his rebounding ability. Throughout many of Atlanta’s close games last season, they struggled to rebound the basketball against more aggressive and taller teams.

As a frequent member of the league’s top 10 in rebounds, Capela’s strength helps on both ends of the floor: He will take away offensive rebounding chances for Atlanta’s opponents and boost his new team’s second-chance points. 

Arguably the most intriguing storyline will be seeing how Capela and John Collins will co-exist. Collins is undersized at his position but plays big, and Capela is the same way.

However, unlike Capela, Collins has demonstrated he can space the floor with his shooting ability. Capela’s game is solely inside the paint, crashing the boards and catching passes inside. If this duo clicks early, look for Atlanta to be dangerous in the later months of the 2020-21 season. 

“I think we can help each other in what we do best,” Capela said about Collins. 

The Capela trade was a massive step in the right direction for Atlanta. His defensive ability, rebounding, veteran leadership, and slashing ability bodes well for a Hawks team that is still trying to figure it all out. Capela can be the glue to young pieces that can fit and gel together and grow into something special in Atlanta.