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Rockets Rookie Clint Capela the Buzz of NBA D-League Showcase Day 2

By Brian Kotloff | January 16, 2015

By Brian Kotloff, NBADLeague.com

SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. — The Houston Rockets sent a load of talent the Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ way for their first NBA D-League Showcase game on Friday. Suddenly, 9-12 RGV trotted out a roster that featured six players who’ve appeared in an NBA game this season.

But the player that turned the most heads was the youngest of them all: 20-year-old project big man Clint Capela. No one is more thrilled to see Capela suit up for the Vipers than their head coach, Nevada Smith, who has a 6-foot-10, 220-pound beast at his disposal.

“The timing on his shot blocking is ridiculous. His hands are absurdly good,” Smith said after the Rockets rookie posted 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks in his 14th game on assignment.

The entire season has been a showcase for Capela, who has dominated in the minutes he’s on the floor to the tune of 26.6 points, 15.6 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per 36. On Friday, however, the Rockets got to show off their prized prospect to an event attended by all 30 NBA teams, and Capela’s talent stood out among the hundred-plus players just trying to reach the next level.

He may already be there if not for Houston’s stacked front court and an offseason groin injury that has forced the Rockets to map out a plan to restrict his minutes.

“When we realized how badly he was hurt, the plan was the bring him here and let him play a little bit,” Smith said. “He just needs to play, needs to get reps.”

Capela said he watched Dwight Howard closely during his brief time with the Rockets this summer and for 11 days in December. Now he’s blocking shots, throwing down lobs and even dancing like his big-league counterpart.

“When I came for the first time, it was new for me – new country, new everything,” Capela said. “I’m really comfortable right now.”

And his training wheels are slowly being taken off, as he played a season-high 25 minutes for the second straight game, a number that will increase to about 27 in RGV’s next game, according to Smith.

“He should be full go in about three or four weeks,” Smith said.

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