Patrick kicked off our series of Hawks player previews yesterday with Cam Reddish. I’ll continue it today with a player many people might have forgotten about after all of Atlanta’s offseason acquisitions.
Capela is a 26-year-old center that is originally from Switzerland. He was drafted 25th overall by the Houston Rockets in 2014, and by his third season, he was a staple in their starting lineup, quickly becoming one of the best rebounders and rim-protectors in the league.
As a 23-year-old, Capela led the NBA in field goal percentage, making shots at a 65.2% clip during the 2017-2018 season. The very next season, he averaged a career-high in points with 16.6 per game, and before he was shutdown last season, he posted a career-high in rebounds, hauling in 13.8 boards per contest.
In a bit of an odd move, the Rockets decided to move on from Capela before the trade deadline earlier this year. Houston hoped they could revolutionize the game, going completely small and basically eliminating the center position altogether. It turned out to be a disaster, and the Rockets went from a legit championship contender to just another playoff team seemingly overnight. Now, they are potentially looking at a total rebuild.
The Hawks had a few glaring weaknesses last season, but none was more apparent than their defense in the paint. Capela, along with rookie Onyeka Okungwu, will be tasked with fixing that, and they should be more than up to the challenge.
Capela will have three primary responsibilities starting next to John Collins: Protect the rim, grab boards, and catch easy lobs from Trae Young. His game should mesh perfectly with what the Hawks are trying to do, which is similar to what the Rockets were running under Mike D’Antoni, and he should benefit tremendously from playing with a pass-first point guard like Trae Young. I imagine there is a chance Capela could end up topping his career-high in points with the Hawks, but that shouldn’t be the focus. As long as he helps Atlanta patch up their rebounding and defensive issues, his addition should make the Hawks a much better team.