Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela was the best at doing the dirty work last season

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Atlanta Hawks superstar point guard Trae Young deservingly got headlines when Kirk Goldsberry shared the leading scorers from each zone on the floor. Young, in just three seasons, sits atop of the list at the top of the key over the last 25 years.

But there is a cause and effect at play and that is with one of his lob targets.

Clint Capela was on the other end of the spectrum of that graphic, making the most shots within two feet of the basket last season.

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela is the thunder to Trae Young’s lightning

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For all of the highlights that Young generates, Capela just goes about his business. The best on the glass last season, he led the NBA in rebound chances and contested rebounds per game.

He did this while also being second in deferred chances. The 6-foot-10 Swiss big man also led the league in paint touch points per game.

That’s all just a long way of saying Capela was grabbing a lot of misses. He led the league in putbacks with 3.4 per game. He finished with the second shortest average shot distance and was third in total dunks.

What’s wild is virtually none of his points come off of designed post-ups, which he utilizes on just 7.6 percent of his possessions the vast majority of his shots were assisted.

Instead, those putbacks account for 27.3 percent of his scoring while rolls account for another 24.2 percent.

And all of this just on his offense, something you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the defensive anchor at first blush. That just goes to show how good he was last season.

One thing Capela could stand to work on is his free-throw shooting. But how uncommon is that for a big man? What will be really interesting is to see what happens after this season when he’ll have just one year remaining on his deal.

It’s just another decision for the Hawks as their payroll grows thanks to extensions.

Young and John Collins will account for $54 million of the cap starting in the 2022-23 season. Kevin Huerter is headed for restricted free agency if an extension isn’t agreed upon.

De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish will be looming the following year.

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We talked about upgrading the center position a while back. But even then we admitted there weren’t many if any actual upgrades as opposed to more modern fits. But the numbers show Capela is the best at what he does and what he does is perfect for what Young does.