Down goes Dwight Howard and in comes … Clint Capela?
That was the story on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, when the just-turned 21-year-old (his birthday was Monday) from Switzerland was thrust into action at raucous Oracle Arena following Howard’s first-quarter knee injury.
Less than two months ago, Capela was playing in McAllen, Texas, finishing up a rookie season spent primarily with Houston’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
But in his 13th playoff appearance — he’s now played more minutes for the Rockets in these playoffs (104) than he played in the entire regular season (90) — Capela once again held his own, stepping up with 9 points (4/4 FG), 4 rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in 13 minutes.
“When I was in the D-League, no, I would not think this was possible,” Capela told NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury. “I thought I’m not going to play this year, maybe next year. I was just trying to keep working hard and be ready when they would call me up.”
More from NBA.com: Capela Ready for His Close-Up
Fellow late first-round pick/international man of mystery/NBADL alum Rudy Gobert has taken notice:
Don’t worry about the lottery…just look at my boy Capela who got drafted 25th. #allyouneedisagoodGM
— rudy gobert (@rudygobert27) May 20, 2015
Capela is used to making an impact in small doses of action; after suffering a shoulder injury during the offseason, the Rockets brought him along slowly with the Vipers, ramping up his minutes limit from 15 to start the season to 20, then 25, then 30, until he was fully unleashed by February.
His per-minute production in the 2015 NBA Playoffs hasn’t quite matched the outrageous numbers he put up in the RGV, but Capela has emerged as May’s most surprising contributor.
|Clint Capela Per-36-Minute Statistics|
|RGV Vipers (regular season)||38||23.5||14.2||4.3||59.9%||5.8||8.4|
|Houston Rockets (playoffs)||13||17.9||12.8||2.8||66.7%||3.8||9.0|
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