« At the start in the NBA, I was a little worried »


Landed from the Rockets two seasons ago, Clint Capela is currently flourishing on the Hawks’ side where he is both a key defensive anchor and a decisive element in the attack through his ability to finish under the circle and his complementarity with Trae young. Back in Houston last week to face the Rockets with Atlanta, a game where the Rockets won, Capela took the opportunity to look back on his years with the Rockets as well as on his adaptation to the NBA game when he arrived in the league then over the years. And for him, difficult to define a memory in particular of his 6 seasons spent in Texas.

“Honestly, it was just being part of a team that wins every year. To have high expectations every season and to have the best memories possible of all those games. The fans, the city, I really felt love all these years. It was really special. »Clint Capela

While he has known three different coaches during his years in Houston, Mike d’Antoni is certainly the one who marked him the most. Because Houston has won a lot under his leadership, but also because his playing system suited his profile and what he likes to do on the pitch.

“Coach Antoni was clearly one of my favorite coaches. He was just easy going, the way he wanted to play was always pretty straightforward. I felt like I was always put in the best position in the game. I loved our offensive pace and everything we did offensively, where we broke records or stuff like that. Surrounding us with shooters and the way we played, I loved that. »Clint Capela

If he reached the Eastern Conference final with the Hawks last year, Capela was not at his first attempt. Indeed, he had already reached this stage of the playoffs with Houston twice. During his rookie season, then in 2017/2018, where worn by a regular season MVP James Harden, the Rockets finished the season with 65 wins and the best record in the Western Conference and the league. Unfortunately, they lost to the Warriors after leading 3-2 in the series before losing in an NBA Finals game. A memory that Capela has not erased and which comes to mix with a more general experience in the league.

“Obviously, it’s still a good 7 years. It was a great year, with 65 wins of course. I always try to keep some things that happened that year to learn from that. To talk about it or even share my experience for one day, I hope, to make it to the conference finals. But it was definitely something I’ll never forget. »Clint Capela

Yet the Swiss interior recognizes itself that on his arrival in the NBA, it took him a certain time to adapt to this news and this new basketball. He was therefore far from imagining being so successful in such a role.

“At first it was a bit complicated. The first months at the gym helped me a lot. Obviously, at the end of my rookie season, when I started playing in the playoffs, I really started to get used to the NBA game. So I ended up being OK, although at first I was a little worried. »Clint Capela

Better yet, not content with having become one of the major players in the league in his position and an indisputable holder, he has also become a respected leader. He has therefore also evolved in his attitude, his approach to the game and his leadership.

“I’m more vocal, I speak more. I speak when I see something. I tell them that I will listen when they speak. I don’t hesitate to share my opinion in the locker room or during downtime. I know from my experience with the Rockets and with the Hawks, I’m really respected and when I speak they can listen to me. »Clint Capela

With an overall game in the league that has evolved a lot, especially through teams like the Rockets, and which corresponds very well to the qualities of Capela, he who was used to playing this way in Texas, the Swiss did not is therefore not disoriented. Even downright delighted.

“There are more and more 3 points, a lot more rhythm. I like it because I like to play on pick and roll and with a fast beat. It’s definitely different. It’s harder to defend because it goes faster, but for me that doesn’t change anything. My game remains the same. »Clint Capela

Especially at his side, he has a player capable of fulfilling an internal and external role in the person of John collins, with whom it proclaims its complementarity. And he also defends the performance of his teammate.

“Remember he’s shooting 40% at three points. He has this ability to rule out gambling when I play with him. I love his energy. Every night he brings this and I like it. We can play together and he can catch lobs too, which I love. »Clint Capela

A player who, like him, has built himself through hard work and self-sacrifice. Especially since Collins suffered a lot of criticism before gaining almost unanimous support in Atlanta and even in the league. So if Capela has one piece of advice for players, especially international players, who come into the league and feel in difficulty, it is that of hard work.

“My only advice would be just to work until you establish yourself as one of the leading NBA players. »Clint Capela

Just like he had to work when he came to the Hawks, in a rebuilding team, light years away from the results and ambitions of the Rockets at that time. But he soon realized that there was something to be built with the Hawks. And with a conference final last year, he wasn’t wrong and is thriving in Georgia as things have changed in Houston.

“I love it, I like it. At first I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out and in the end everything is fine. Definitely much better than I expected. I just feel blessed to be with this group and just enjoy as much as I can. Being able to play the conference finals in the East was very special for me, and I love this group and this team. »Clint Capela

Before flying to Atlanta, Capela still had a word about the future of the Rockets, for whom he is optimistic. As long as you make the right choices and develop well. And even if he admits not to watch them play too much, he still underlined the qualities of Alperen Sengun in whom he sees in particular a talented and intelligent player.

“I see Houston has a lot of talented young guys. They are full of promise. I hope they will find the solution in the future because they have a lot of things to build on. »Clint Capela

Via The Athletic

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