Is there a downside to The Atlanta Hawks addition of Clint Capela?

Looking at the Atlanta Hawks’ acquisition of Clint Capela and two other centers.

Leading up to the trade deadline, it has been evident that the Atlanta Hawks were  in desperate need of a strong defensive presence. They had been tied to centers Clint Capela, Steven Adams and Andre Drummond, among others, but it was uncertain if they were going to make a move now.

The team was left with two questions…See this season out as a lost cause and use their upcoming first round draft picks and free agency to build a playoff worthy roster? Or strike while the iron was hot and make a play before the trade deadline came to a close? They decided on the latter. The trade deadline ended with the Atlanta Hawks securing two additional upgrades at center for their roster.

The Hawks received center Clint Capela in an extensive 4-team/ 12-player trade that included the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Denver Nuggets. In the end, the Hawks sacrificed guard Evan Turner, forward Chandler Parsons, their 2020 first round draft pick (via the Brooklyn Nets), and a 2024 second round draft pick in order to secure Capela.

The Hawks also acquired center Dewayne Dedmon and two second round picks in a trade that sent forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len to the Sacramento Kings. Lastly, they added Skal Labissière in a deal with Portland.

Clint Capela looks like an immediate upgrade for the Hawks. A young, aggressive center (averaging 13.9 points and 13.8 rebounds) that can jump right in the rotation and take some pressure off of John Collins and support Trae Young. Capela has competed in the NBA playoffs each of his five years with the Rockets and averaged 8.3 point and 7.7 rebounds, proving he can perform in the postseason as well.

However, there is another question to ask. Why would the postseason bound Houston Rockets give up Clint Capela? It’s a question that everyone wants to know the answer to. (Everyone on Twitter at least). Is this a question the Atlanta Hawks should be asking themselves?

Houston is seemingly looking to play a “small ball” strategy. Capela found himself hindering the Rockets offense by “clogging” up the lane when Westbrook and Harden drove to the basket. Capela could bring the same disadvantage for Young as open lanes may be more congested with him bringing an extra defender.

We have also seen a trend of Capela drawing extra defenders on Harden when setting picks as well. This may be another sore spot we may see from him in Atlanta’s offensive scheme when he is added in the mix.

The Houston Rockets have found themselves as the “talented team” who cannot get over the hump in the playoffs. After being sent home by the Warriors in consecutive playoff matchups (2018, 2019), including the 2018 Western Conference Finals, the narrative became that Harden wasn’t clutch in the postseason. After this impactful move by the Rockets, could Houston’s 2014 first round pick have been there problem all along? The Hawks could find out.

Next: Grading the Clint Capela trade



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