Traditional basketball at the margins

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Clint Capela’s performance against the Warriors, particularly the manner in which Draymond Green managed to make the former a complete non-factor on the offensive side of the ball during the Western Conference Finals. As a starting point, I’d ask that you think back to last summer when Houston had been disposed of by the San Antonio Spurs after Rockets shooters were chased off the three-point line but with Pau Gasol parked at the basket. It was said that Houston’s system wasn’t conducive to success at the highest levels because too much spare change was left on the table in eschewing the mid-range. Enter Chris Paul, (who tragically was not available for the latter part of this past series.)

I agreed with the critique stating that the “all threes and layups” approach was a great strategy in the aggregate to blow out the majority of the league. But it presented a problem at the margins. Similarly, now, I’m wondering if the geekery regarding post-ups may also be somewhat misguided. Consider: Draymond Green was able to stay home with Capela such that if he were to catch the ball at all, rather than receiving it above the cylinder as he had become accustomed to, he was getting it in spots away from the hoop wherein he was needing to make some sort of a move.

During the year, we saw Clint make strides in driving to the hoop, showing off a nifty Eurostep at various times. While the thinking might be for Clint to continue developing his face-up skills (see: Amare Stoudemire), I’m wondering if a post-up game might be better served to attack the Warriors and more importantly, be easier to develop. Some of you cringed at the suggestion when I raised it on Twitter, but do take note at a critical distinction that I think is being missed. The Dwight Howard post-ups that epitomized the “least efficient shots in basketball” were the start of plays. What I’m advocating for is the post-up at the end of the play, similar to how the Rockets used Yao Ming after Tracy McGrady’s acquisition. (I wrote extensively at the time about how JVG made this critical change to the Rockets offense.) I envision a Harden drive, leading to a Capela dump-off, and then rather than Clint fecklessly doing nothing, making a quick back to the basket move to score. He already showed some signs of this throughout the year.

Capela is one of the sole sources of potential internal improvement on this team. How the Rockets tailor his skill development is crucial in their trajectory.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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