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Mike D’Antoni convinced Clint Capela can become one of the greatest centers in NBA

Clint Capela

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has high aspirations for his starting center Clint Capela. So high, in fact, that the second-year Rockets coach expects him to be among one of the league’s best at the position once he reaches his prime.

“To me, it’s just a matter of time,” D’Antoni said, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t become, if not the best center in the league, one of the best. I’ll be shocked. “He can get a little bit better at the foul line, and he can get better with his endurance.”

Capela has made huge strides early in the season, managing to improve on an already impressive field goal percentage, shooting 69.4 percent from the floor, a 5.1 percent improvement over his last season percentile.

The Swiss international has made even more crucial changes in his game, now shooting a more reliable 71.9 percent from the free-throw line through 12 games, a vast change over the 53.1 percent last season and the ghastly 37.9 percent from 2015-16.

“When he does that, when you say what the modern center should look like, it’ll have his picture there,” D’Antoni said after noting the strides his 23-year-old big man has taken during the offseason.

Capela has played an integral part on this team, most recently against the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, scoring nine of the last 12 points of the fourth quarter for a struggling Rockets offense, and sealing the game with a late block on LeBron James to walk away with the win.

The young center made his impact felt throughout the game, totaling 19 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting, hauling 13 boards, and four blocks in the outing.