On Thursday, I wrote about Clint Capela’s prospects for improvement over at Forbes:
And as I’ve said for years, his minutes per game need to increase for a player of his age with his impact. Extrapolated out to 36 minutes, Capela averaged 18.2 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. Now that he’s been paid, the Rockets need Capela to be able to overcome the stamina issues which have plagued him since he entered the league and play at least 30 minutes per game.
A reader writes:
How much of his minutes limitation last season was due to stamina versus MDA's desire to go with 5-out lineups? I doubt he ever plays 36 mpg for MDA even if he were able to do so consistently.
— Andrew Soukup (@asoukuptx) August 24, 2018
Its an interesting thought that I considered as well. When the Rockets go completely small, its not always out of necessity – its because D’Antoni views the ability to spread the floor with five shooters as a strength. But I dug up some old quotes from D’Antoni on the matter:
D’Antoni just wants to play Capela more. Capela, who at times showed signs of fatigue, averaged 23.9 minutes per game last season, but D’Antoni said he expects Capela’s endurance will improve as a result of his offseason strength and conditioning work and natural physical maturation.
“He can get a little bit better at the foul line, and he can get better with his endurance,” D’Antoni said, and Capela’s free throw percentage has soared to .783 this season. “When he does that, when you say what the modern center should look like, it’ll have his picture there.”
And then in May:
“It’s not necessarily who he’s doing it against, but it’s just how he’s played and being relentless and what happens when he’s on the floor,” D’Antoni said of Capela’s rebounding and shot-altering capabilities. “Now, he’s able to stay on the floor 30-something minutes a game because of his stamina, and his energy is way up … he’s definitely jumped up to another level.”
And then from the postseason:
D’Antoni often said that improving his endurance is the final hurdle for Capela in establishing himself as an elite center.
The Rockets require Capela to constantly play like his hair is on fire, sprinting the court, setting screens, rolling hard to the rim, fighting for rebounds, chasing guards on the perimeter and challenging shots. He has the most physically taxing job on the team. That’s why minutes might be Capela’s most notable stat from the playoffs. He’s averaging 32 minutes a game, up from 27.5 during the regular season. Capela played 36 minutes in Houston’s Game 3 win, matching his previous career high, and then logged 37 minutes in Game 4.
“I think he pole vaulted over the hurdle,” D’Antoni said. “He cleared it by a lot. And the guy was incredible the whole time.”
So I do think that its clear that the desire is for Clint to play over 30 minutes per game.