(Editor's note: The inclement weather in Georgia has slowed some of our usual post-game coverage of last night's loss to the Raptors. Enjoy this look at another potential Hawks draft target while we thaw out. JH)
General Manager Danny Ferry twice selected players playing overseas (Dennis Schröder and Lucas Nogueira) in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. The selections are consistent with the decade-long plan the San Antonio Spurs have used while focusing on international players (Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobili) and players from non-major colleges (George Hill, Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills). With the selection of Mike Muscala in the second round, the Hawks fulfilled the parameters of a typical Spurs draft. This strategy has to be considered as the Hawks prepare for 2014.
The purpose behind the international and small-school draft strategy is not wholly a condemnation of the American AAU system, but there is little doubt that a lack of development within AAU basketball has influenced teams looking beyond high school scout rankings and college powerhouse rosters. Plenty of AAU notables have long and successful NBA careers and those examples go far beyond superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul. The Spurs would have gladly taken such players over a player of lesser ability. However, when given an opportunity to select between players of similar talents, Danny Ferry is likely to choose prospects with fewer bad habits--something prominent in the AAU system. When a team is focused on developing talent over acquiring it, there is an increased demand to draft players who learn quickly. A great obstacle to such learning is the presence of bad habits. In many instances, talented players who have come through AAU and major college basketball have sacrificed developing technical skills by relying upon their remarkable physical gifts. The best college coaches are great at molding teams to win, but often that is done at the expense of player development. One elite skill might benefit the team more than developing a well-rounded game.
Even the incredibly gifted Kobe Bryant claims that his superior development as a youth was due to the European influence to his game versus the typical American high school phenom. Despite the common perception that the best players in the league are stars due primarily to superior talent, many of the league's stars were not identified for their elite physical gifts upon entering college. All-stars Stephen Curry, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Tony Parker, and the Hawks' Paul Millsap are all players whose major development took place outside of premier AAU or major college basketball. While fans love the hype of highly-touted players, teams with good development programs invest in players who possess enough talent to play in the league but without bad habits that become difficult to correct. A great example of a player who illustrates rapid development due to the absence of bad habits is Joel Embiid of Kansas. Embiid, a favorite to be the first player selected, remains raw but his remarkable progress in skill development over the last 3-4 months (prior to recent minor back issue which has limited him) is credited by Kansas coach Bill Self to be aided by arriving in Lawrence with a need to be developed rather than fixed.
While there are plenty of traditional prospects that should be able to fit well into the Hawks system (Jerami Grant and Kyle Anderson have been covered in previous PTH profiles), Atlanta may go overseas again due to a relatively strong group of international prospects and a less exciting group of non-major collegiate players. Australian combo guard Dante Exum (top-5 pick) and Croatian point forward Darko Saric (lottery pick) are likely to be off the board if the Hawks are selecting between 16 and 19. There are 4-5 other international players who could go in the first round, but most evaluations have Switzerland-native Clint Capela as the best player available after Exum and Saric. The 20-year-old PF/C prospect has been linked to the Hawks in the most recent NBA mock draft from DraftExpress.com.
Capela is a 6-foot-10, 210 pound prospect who plays in the second-tier Eurocup for Chalon of the French league. Playing alongside former Syracuse forward Kris Joseph, Capela has the highest player rating on his team while showing weekly improvement throughout the season. As a result, he has moved from an early second rounder in most draft rankings to a player expected to be taken late in the first round. It is difficult to evaluate European leagues due to a limited amount of video, a different style of play from the NBA and poor knowledge of opposing players. The available film shows a relatively raw but fluid athlete who may not measure fully to his listed length of 6 feet and 10 inches. Capela has long arms with a 7'4" reach and appears thicker than when he played in the Adidas EUROCAMP this past summer. This video is not of the highest quality but it successfully highlights why Capela is highly regarded and rising in the view of scouts:
Clint Capela show: 41 de valoración (via chemalucas)
A right-handed player, Capela makes a strong block and a difficult catch with his left hand in the above video. My favorite play I have seen from his is in this video with the bounce pass he makes at the 1:31 mark. It is just a bounce pass, yet the anticipation and placement of it is a skill lacking among the best collegiate players. Lacking the size to be an ideal center while possessing active feet, Capela projects better as a power forward than center. However, he does appear to have the physical skill to defend 3 positions with proper development. His body and athleticism favors comparably to Al Horford. Unlike Horford, Capela seems to think he is a little better than he really is. His chirpiness at teammates could be a good quality or it could lead to being completely overwhelmed by athletes of equal and superior physical talents when he arrives in the NBA. Like many young American players he has a tendency to float outside too much, but in his more recent game films he seems to be accepting his role in the post more readily. This development along with this interview from December, indicates a growing maturity on and off the floor. If all else fails, he is not afraid to deliver a facial (you may recognize Bebe's hair in the background):
Clint Capela Serves Up a FACIAL at adidas EUROCAMP 2013! (via HoopsfixOT)
Could we see Dennis Schröder tossing alley-oops to Bebe and Capela in the Highlight Factory in the next few years? While teams may desire the absence of bad habits present in international prospects, the stereotype of Euroleague players lacking athleticism is in need of some revision. The notion that you cannot build a team with players from across the water is the same bias that leads fans to want the players they have already seen. There are no guarantees with any pick, but Clint Capela is a typical European young big with few bad habits and an athletic upside more traditionally attributed to American one-and-done stars. He would appear to be a better option for the Hawks than many major-college players who typically have upside with bad habits or good habits and a low ceiling.
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