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Rockets’ Clint Capela rises to No. 35 on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players list

Clint Capela, Rockets

Houston Rockets center Clint Capela has risen to the creme of the crop of the NBA, now ranked as the No. 35 player on Sports Illustrated’s annual Top 100 NBA players list after coming in at No. 58 before the start of last season. 

The improving Swiss international broke out last season, posting 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game during the 2017-18 campaign — a line that ultimately warranted a five-year, $90 million extension from the Rockets this summer.

SI’s Ben Golliver, who curated the list alongside partner Rob Mahoney, had plenty of praise for the 24-year-old:

It’s no surprise that Capela has buttered his bread in the basket area: He shot a league-high 65.2% thanks to a parade of lobs, defended a league-high 588 shots from within six feet, and ranked eighth with 42 double-doubles. Unlike many of his positional counterparts, though, the 24-year-old Capela has found numerous ways to inject mobility into possessions. He doesn’t camp on the block looking for post-up opportunities, and he covers ground from end to end like few players his size. Even when Houston goes to its slow-down half-court isolation mode, Capela darts through space to set high screens and knifes through multiple bodies to chase offensive rebounds.

Capela’s improvement has been steady in each and every season with the Rockets, slowly creeping out of the Dwight Howard shadow and into the forefront as the team’s starting center.

The direction of Mike D’Antoni has ultimately allowed him more freedom, and his improvement at the line now poses him as a threat offensively, as well as defensively, making the most of every possession.

Capela is still far away from his ceiling, but he is already making plenty of noise as one of the best up-and-coming centers in the league — something his SI ranking clearly displays.