The first weekend of March Madness is behind us and there are already a few prospects officially declaring for this year’s draft. I’ve already discussed a few of the top international players ready to make the leap to the NBA, but a few still remain before going into the college players in the coming weeks. With that in mind, we take a look at Swiss big man Clint Capela.
Chalon is where you can find this young 6’10” big man from Geneva, Switzerland. The French Euroleague team is no stranger to NBA talent that hails from Switzerland as the only Swiss player in the NBA, Thabo Sefolosha, played for the team a decade ago. Capela may join the list of NBA players from Switzerland as he is considered one of the top power forward prospects in this year’s draft. Many are already aware of the front court prospects of Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, and Doug McDermott, but Capela is right there with them as a considered late lottery talent.
Clint Capela has been with Chalon for four seasons now, but only has one full season under his belt with the first team. He has been a major piece for the French team this season along with two former NBA players, Kris Joseph and Jon Brockman. Capela has mostly played center this year, averaging 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in French League play, and 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in Euroleague play. His numbers don’t standout on paper, but his minutes are currently hovering around 20 a game, which only seems to be a sign of depth limiting the Swiss forward than any sort of conditioning or foul issues.
The attention Capela is earning from NBA scouts lies more in his physical talents than any other portion of his game. He is still very raw at 19 years old and will likely take a few years to fully develop in the NBA.
Clint currently sits in the 13th spot in DraftExpress’ 2014 mock draft, just a few picks above where the Hawks are projected to pick at the moment.
Capela is able to play either the power forward position or center in the NBA, but at 6’10” and 211 pounds, he’ll likely be better suited for the 4-spot early in his career. The big man is one of the better defensive presences in the draft and one of the better potentials on that end as well. Any team that has their eye on Kansas big man Joel Embiid will likely take a look at Capela as well if their draft position is outside the range for Embiid.
Not quite as big as Embiid, Capela holds a few similarities to the Cameroonian. With a 7’4″ wingspan, Capela has a natural shot blocking ability that will only get better with experience. He also is one of the better rebounders in the draft, with a total of about 8 rebounds per 40 minutes based on this season’s numbers and he possesses one of the better skillsets in positioning for rebounds. More of an athletic big, he has the quickness to hover around the perimeter on both ends of the floor, and Chalon has found a lot of success using him in pick-and-roll situations.
Capela will be 20 when the draft arrives, and teams will be aware that he still has a long way to go before becoming a major piece for any team. The big man is still very raw on the offensive end with a very limited post game and his offensive output is limited to the paint. His weaker frame leads to struggles dealing with contact, and he often chooses to shy away from contact on both ends of the floor. Capela seems to have that competitive drive within, but his mentality as a star shows some suspect effort that may just be a display of his youth. His passion may display some red flags, but the right situation could set course for him as a future star in the NBA.
Capela is a prime candidate as a stash option for the Hawks. He does share a number of similarities with the Hawks’ current stash player in Lucas Noguiera, a few in which may be repetitive if they end up teammates, however as one of the top power forward options and a high upside, Capela should not be out of consideration.
The Hawks could see Capela as a future starter in the long run. His selection would likely mean another year overseas with Millsap entering the final year of his contract, and with the way Paul has already outplayed his current deal, the spot may open up for Capela when Millsap enters free agency following next season. Atlanta could also end up needing his services earlier if Mike Scott proves to be too expensive for the Hawks to match this coming off-season, however it would be ideal for Capela to continue to develop overseas where he would see more opportunity for playing time.
Capela’s draft stock is still in flux as only a few teams have had the chance to see him play, and he still may choose to wait another year before declaring, but a late lottery selection seems likely for the young player. There will be a number of teams looking for a power forward in the middle of the first round, and even with the depth at the position, Capela won’t have to wait long to hear his name called. We’ll see if it’s a Hawks hat that he slips on when his name is called in June.