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Raptors Could Use High Flying Big Man Clint Capela

The anti-Euro basketball player crowd in Toronto might have something to worry about after the Raptors brought in the Swiss high flying big man Clint Capela for a pre-draft workout on Thursday. Capela was as advertised. The 6’11 20-year-old with the 7’4.5” wingspan has length to spare and the quickness to play at both ends of the court in the NBA. This is a guy who excels in transition and at finishing alley-oop dunks. If the Raptors want a high potential big man that could bring some excitement to the Air Canada Centre and could possibly become an excellent shot blocker, Capela could be their guy on Draft Night.

Capela describes his best assets as, “My athleticism, on the rebound I go up (above) everybody and when I run the floor for the alley-oop pass and on the defense, block shots.”

“I think I just have to work on the physical, but everything is going to be okay because people told me the same thing when I came to the French league because the year before I played for the junior (team) and they told me you are not physical(ly ready) to play in France and I played and I proved (I could).”

Clint Capela audio:


Capela has added 11 lbs since last year and weighed 222 lbs at the Nike Hoop Summit. Physically he looks good and his solid frame should easily handle some more weight. In 33 French Pro A league games he averaged 9.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.5 blocks in just 22 minutes and shot 63.2 percent from the field. He upped his average during his team’s 10 Eurocup games to 11.2 points on 71.8 percent shooting in 19.8 minutes.

The Raptors Director of Scouting Dan Tolzman had a lot to say about Capela and most of it suggested the big Swiss kid would make a great addition to the Raptors for next season. Capela is the type of big man that can challenge defenses by going for alley-oops in a half court setting or in transition. He changes ends really well which suggests Capela should be able to get back on defense quickly and he excels in defending the pick-and-roll which is a staple of NBA offenses everywhere. For a high-flying offensive player, it could be his defense that would get him on the court in Toronto.

Dan Tolzman audio:


“(Capela) is a big time vertical spacer which is guys that can catch alley-oops – it is like a different kind of spacing on the floor,” Tolzman said. “You have the corner three shooters who space it out for the bigs and you got guys like him that kind of drop into the short corner area and because they are so deadly with catching alley-oops it makes the defense worry about them more than worry about penetration. So he is a guy that can really do that and he can really run the floor well for a big. He changes ends really well and I think that his athleticism and length and the fact that he is so young too, it’s pretty intriguing with his potential.”

Obtaining a young big man who can play above the rim and add the excitement and defensive challenge of the alley-oop play is something the Raptors could use, however, Capela did not come from a defensive-minded team, so he will have some catching up to do at that end of the court.

“(Capela) played on a team that was more offensive-minded and maybe they ran the ball a lot,” Tolzman said. “It wasn’t a team that really focused on defense, so you approach it a little different than (with) some guys in college who are system players – who are playing styles of defense you don’t see in the NBA much. You take it into account because there are things like defensive rotations and defensive reads that you know are different in international just because the level of play is different, the style of play is so much different.

“One of the main things that (Capela) is so good at is defending the pick-and-roll. He uses his quick hands and his length and he gets in a nice defensive stance. He really jumps out and hedges ball handlers. It is one of things that if he has any skill that could get him in a game early in the NBA it will be (his) pick-and-roll defense.

“With his athleticism and his length, he’ll be (a rim protector) eventually. He wasn’t relied on to do that too much with his current team in France. I think it will just be a matter of learning/ watching the weak side penetrators, knowing your timing and things like that come with more experience doing them and whoever drafts him, they are going to look for him to be a guy like that because he is so athletic and he’s got such great range and lateral quickness. He’ll have to eventually get there to be successful in the NBA and I think the way he is setup, his game will eventually get there.”

If the Raptors keep their front court together, Capela could slide in and learn to play the NBA game without a lot of pressure and have some pretty solid defense players to mentor him. He is already poised to surprise some people with his ability to change ends and finish above the rim. Capela could be the most exciting prospect the Raptors have a legitimate chance at drafting in the first round.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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