The Houston Rockets assigned Clint Capela, their 25th pick in the 2014 draft, to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Monday. The assignment is primarily for rehabilitation reasons, as Capela is currently nursing a groin injury that he suffered in preseason with the Rockets. He was forced to sit out the Vipers' season opener on Friday because of the injury, but made his debut on Saturday night against the Austin Spurs.
In 12 minutes, Capela scored 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting, pulled down five rebounds, and blocked four shots. According to The Monitor's Dennis Silva, Capela will continue to be on a 15-minute restriction as he recovers from his injury.
Capela wasted no time getting involved. Within one minute of checking into the game, he swatted Jarell Eddie's layup attempt and scored his first basket of the season 40 seconds later. While he continued to be effective on both ends of the court, within four minutes of his first stint he was visibly tired. He was slow to get up-and-down the court and was breathing heavily during breaks on the floor. Given his situation, though, that much is to be expected. Capela even said after the game that he needs to be in better shape before he can be expected to play more minutes.
Offensively, Capela scored two of his four baskets in pick-and-rolls. He rolled to the right spots and used his length and soft touch to finish over the opposition. The other three came from being in the right place at the right time, moving into the paint when the Vipers' guards drove to the basket to create easy passing lanes. He's a very smooth player with good hands, which is impressive given his size and length.
On defense, Capela gave the Vipers some good minutes as a rim protector. There were a few occasions when he failed to rotate to the right person and he was taken off the dribble too easily by quicker bigs, but that could be the result of him adjusting to the system and still working to find his legs. He blocked four shots on the night in total, all of which were on drives to the basket by the Spurs' guards. He was quick to get off the floor and did a good job of staying on the ground, not biting on any fakes.
Following the Vipers 113-110 win over the Austin Spurs, head coach Nevada Smith was impressed with how Capela performed in his debut, but said that the rookie is still playing on feel as he continues to learn the ropes and get into game shape.
He looked good. He’s playing on feel right now. He hasn’t been around us to know what we’re really doing. He’s doing the things we’re expecting him to do.
2014-2015 RGV Vipers Season Blog | The Monitor
Not much was expected from Capela when he made his D-League debut on Saturday, but he didn't fail to impress. He looked the part on both ends of the court, impressive seeing as he missed all of training camp and the first week of the regular season with the Rockets thanks to his groin injury. He'll continue to be on a minutes restriction as he moves forward with the Vipers, but expect to see him perform well in short spurts just like he did on Saturday.