Rockets Daily – June 30, 2014

More Draft Stuff – Now that we know who the Houston Rockets have selected in the draft, we can go back and catch up on some of the coverage we may have overlooked heading into the draft.  Most of this content is ESPN Insider material, so I though I would pass on some of the more important tidbits from ESPN’s top-secret files.  But first, Chad Ford’s grades for the Rockets from draft night.


Round 1:Clint Capela (25)

Round 2:Nick Johnson (42)

Analysis: The Rockets are busy trying to clear cap space for a run at LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Again, I’m not sure how likely it is they land either guy, but both players are worth the effort. So the Rockets took a player in Capela, whom they can leave in Europe to develop — and he needs the time. Capela is long and athletic, but very raw. His analytics numbers were off the charts for Kevin Pelton, but watching him in games was pretty painful. He has a ways to go.

Johnson, who is tough and super-athletic, could help now if the Rockets have a roster spot. He defends and can shoot it a bit. If he were a few inches taller, he would’ve gone much, much higher.      

A few things to note here.  To start, the C- grade seems a little unfair.  As Ford himself says in the intro, grading teams this early is subjective and unfair.  The Rockets were operating under a different set of criteria than most teams do on draft night.  We all know they needed to maintain as much cap space as possible and taking a foreign guy was always going to be their move.  And as for Nick Johnson, Ford admits that the undersized shooting guard would have gone much higher if he were a few inches taller, but if he slots in as a starting-quality point guard next to another ball-dominant shooting guard?  That could really improve this grade on its own.

Even More Draft Stuff – Pre-draft analysis on international prospects can be pretty daunting if you try and study up on all of it.  Most of the foreign players drafted won’t come to the NBA immediately, if at all.  And it’s much less exciting for fans when their teams take a guy they’ve never heard of over a college player you’ve been watching all year.  There’s just too many sleepers, fallers and dream-picks to keep track of, which means you may have overlooked someone like Rockets’ pick Clint Capela.  But fear not, the internet really had this guy covered.

The first piece I remember seeing Capela’s name was in a piece on Grantland by Mark Titus in which he made an International All-Star team by judging prospects by just their YouTube mixtapes.  It’s accessible to everyone so I won’t spend too much time on it, just know that in it Titus admits, “his mixtape DID make me cover my mouth twice, and I said “Holy balls!” once. That means something.”

For more in-depth Capela-coverage, Kevin Pelton had three different pieces making the case for Capela.  In the first, Pelton uses his SHOENE metric to determine the projected WARP for the top-ten international prospects.  And you’ll never guess who beat out Dante Exum (3) and Dario Saric (7) as the top-projected prospect.

1. Clint Capela, PF, Chalon (3.4 projected WARP)

Capela’s star has lost much of its luster since a disappointing effort at the Nike Hoop Summit in April, but it’s worth remembering why he was once considered a likely lottery pick. Before age 20, Capela was one of the best players in the French ProA League and put up similar numbers in Chalon’s brief EuroCup stay. He projects as a high-percentage finisher, a plus rebounder and a good shot-blocker from the power forward spot. SCHOENE compares Capela to former No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors during his rookie season.

There’s something else Rockets’ fans should take note of in this piece.  Pelton uses the same metric to list the top-10 international prospects from 2006-2013, of which only Ricky Rubio cracks the top-5 of this year’s list (albeit at number 1).  But look who’s at number 8.


Player Year Pick Win% Age pWARP*
Ricky Rubio 2009 5 .480 18.5 3.7
Nikola Mirotic 2011 23 .482 20.2 2.9
Rudy Fernandez 2007 24 .521 22.0 2.9
Jonas Valanciunas 2011 5 .446 19.0 2.7
Lucas Nogueira 2013 16 .474 20.7 2.4
Danilo Gallinari 2008 6 .473 20.7 2.4
Andrea Bargnani 2006 1 .485 21.5 2.3
Sergio Llull 2009 34 .482 21.4 2.2
Sergey Karasev 2013 19 .429 19.5 2.0
Brandon Jennings 2010 10 .444 20.6 1.8

In his second piece, Pelton lists the top 30 prospects by their projected WARP.  Former Oklahoma State and now Boston Celtics’ guard Marcus Smart tops the list, but Capela is a surprise at number two.

2. Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Win%: .497 | Age: 19.9 | WARP projection: 3.4

As I noted in last week’s analysis of the top international prospects in the draft, which highlighted the overall strength of the group, Capela performed well both in the French Pro A league and in his team’s brief stint in the EuroCup against more challenging competition. He is an excellent shot-blocker for a power forward and is arguably the best finisher in this year’s draft, as reflected by his projected 54.4 percent 2-point accuracy.

Now, take this list with a grain of salt because even though Pelton adjusts the metric for differences in the level of competition, three of the top four on his list are international prospects, ahead of thoroughbreds like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.  It’s all pretty much the same information as the first article, but it really shows how highly Capela grades out to the rest of the draft class according to the analytics.

In the last piece, Pelton sums up Capela’s game and declares the Swiss big man the potential steal of the draft.

To start, Pelton highlights Capela’s three elite skills: 2-point shot percentage, rebound percentage (especially on the offensive end) and block percentage.  He also compares Capela’s stats to players (Alexis Ajinca and Rudy Gobert) that appeared in games in both the NBA and the French Pro A League last season.

Other players who have gone back and forth from the NBA to the French Pro A League offer some context for Capela’s stats. Alexis Ajinca played in both leagues last season, starting the year with Strasbourg in France before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans in December. The 7-2 center put up similar block and rebound numbers, but he did not shoot as high a percentage from the field as Capela. He averaged 17 minutes per game in the NBA, starting 30 games for the Pelicans, and posted a 14.6 PER.

Ajinca isn’t exactly Hakeem Olajuwon, but he did start 30 games in the NBA last year and a 14.6 PER is nothing to scoff at.  And keep in mind that Capela was only 19 years old.  Pelton also compares how Capela’s converted numbers from last season stack up to other NBA players at a similar age.

After conversion, Capela’s translated 2013-14 performance features 54.0 percent 2-point shooting, a 16.1 percent rebound rate and a 3.7 percent block rate. Check out the NBA big men who have cleared similar bars (52 percent shooting, 15 percent rebound rate and 3 percent block rate) before age 21:

Player Team Year Age 2P% Reb% Blk%
Andris Biedrins GSW 2006 20.1 .638 .160 .034
Andrew Bynum LAL 2008 20.5 .636 .193 .051
Tyson Chandler CHI 2003 20.6 .531 .155 .042
Anthony Davis NOH 2013 20.1 .521 .170 .051
Andre Drummond DET 2014 20.7 .625 .226 .040
Dwight Howard ORL 2006 20.4 .532 .206 .030
Serge Ibaka OKC 2010 20.6 .543 .171 .055
Al Jefferson BOS 2005 20.3 .533 .172 .039
Amir Johnson DET 2008 21.0 .558 .183 .084
DeAndre Jordan LAC 2009 20.7 .633 .180 .057
Jonas Valanciunas TOR 2013 21.0 .557 .150 .042
Not everyone on this list is an All-Star, but as Pelton says, all of them are NBA caliber players; even Andris Biedrins was one of the league’s most promising young big men once upon a time.  One other note from Pelton that highlights the real value of getting Capela at 25:
Usually, getting a prospect such as Capela requires a lottery pick. Of the 11 players in the group listed, eight went in the top 15 picks. But because Capela struggled in front of NBA scouts at the Nike Hoop Summit in April, and has performed poorly in workouts, his stock — once lottery-worthy — has slipped down the first round.
It was already the parallel I’d kind of envisioned beforehand, but especially after reading all of Pelton’s analysis, there seems to be a lot of DeAndre Jordan in Capela’s game.  He appears to have that kind of athletic ability.  Of course he’d have to add quite a bit of weight and strength to his frame, but as Mark Titus noted in the Grantland piece, Capela’s body changed size just during the time span that was his highlight video.  It may take 2-3 years to come to fruition, but if Kevin Pelton is even partially correct, that C- is going to come back to haunt Chad Ford.
In other news regarding the Rockets’ 2014 draft class, Milano defeated powerhouse Siena 74-67 in Game 7 of the Legabasket Serie A Finals.  Rockets’ draft pick Alessandro Gentile, purchased from the Minnesota TimberWolves on draft night, led all scorers (18 points) for the second straight game and was named Finals MVP.

View this discussion from the forum.

in columns
Follow Red94 for all new post updates
Read previous post:
The Amazing Aberration that is the San Antonio Spurs