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Clint Capela’s evolution with Rockets due to chip on his shoulder

Clint Capela

Clint Capela has gone from a no-option to a clear third option in the Houston Rockets’ starting lineup, proving so with a 24-point, 14-rebound double-double to go along with three blocks in a Game 1 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Swiss center runs the floor hard, screen-and-rolls like his life depends on it, and blocks shots with a fierce attitude that would make anyone describe him as a force to reckoned with.

Yet his drastic improvement hasn’t changed his demeanor or his work ethic, still grinding like he did when he backed up an All-Star center in Dwight Howard.

per Brian Smith of The Houston Chronicle:

“Backing up Dwight Howard, I got an opportunity whenever he got hurt my first year, and started playing good, finished hard at the rim,” said Capela, who averaged career highs with 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per games in 74 starts this season. “That’s why I’m still coming up with energy and run hard, set screens and finish hard at the rim.”

That chip on his shoulder hasn’t relented, taking all the lessons from when he had to fight for each minute on the court and putting them in play now where it matters the most.

“He’s matured a lot, especially in the eyes of the other players, just in the confidence they have in him,” said his coach Mike D’Antoni.

“He’s terrific. He’s really good. I think he’s probably undervalued. Probably won’t be this summer when he gets paid. But right now he is. People kind of sleep on him a little bit. But he’s one of the better centers in the league.”

If playing in a contract year wasn’t enough enticement for the up-and-coming center, a trip to the NBA Finals could be, with the Rockets high on momentum and looking to shed past storylines, finally breaking through to a prominent spot in the postseason.