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Roundball Stew

Stew: Ahh Capela

by Matt Stroup
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Read a book, peruse the Internet or just simply look around you, and you’ll see that our world is stacked to the ceiling with famous people named Clint.

Eastwood. Barmes. Malarchuk. Dempsey. Barton. Need I continue? I could easily sit here and rattle them off for a solid 30 seconds or so.

And I’m pleased to say we can officially add the following name to the list: Clint N’Dumba-Capela, starting center for your Houston Rockets.

After a good but not great five-game stretch to start the season (imagine a hot streak from Willie Cauley-Stein: 8.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg), Capela has really taken off over his last 10: 13.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 2.4 bpg, shooting 64.9 percent from the field and picking up at least one block in nine of those 10 games.

He’s not getting steals (0.3 spg during this 10-game run), but can we really complain? The 22-year-old is a perfect fit for the updated landscape in Houston. Namely: He’s adept at finding an open spot, and waiting there for James Harden to find him. And as a weird sort of added bonus: For a player who’s not a good free throw shooter (40.6 percent on the season), Capela is quite good at not getting fouled (he hasn’t attempted more than four free throws in a game once all season).

The temptation in a situation like this is often to sell high, for fear that the player in question can’t keep up the strong start. But given his role (and the fairly thin front court around him), I’m not that worried about Capela suddenly losing momentum. In fact, he’s still gaining it — Capela has topped 30 minutes in each of his last three games (the first 30-plus outings he’s had all season), and in those games he’s averaging 15.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.3 apg and 2.7 bpg.

Also, just keep in mind the value of those blocks. Only seven players in the NBA are averaging 2.0 bpg or better: Anthony Davis (2.8), Hassan Whiteside (2.6), Joel Embiid (2.4), Myles Turner (2.3), Rudy Gobert (2.3), Giannis Antetokounmpo (2.2) and Capela (2.0).

Sell high if you so choose, but I think that this Clint is only in the early days of what could be a pretty long run of fame*. 

(You can follow me on Twitter right here)

In other fantasy hoops matters…

I have some updated thoughts on Jamal Murray. Last week I gave a recommendation to add Murray, but because of concerns about playing time, the recommendation was only at about 65 percent strength. I’m boosting it to full power now. The same caveat still applies that Denver’s rotation is pretty crowded, but the updated fact is this: Murray is awesome. The 19-year-old plays with a ton of energy, has an absurdly quick release, and lately, absurd accuracy. In his last six games, Murray has hit 59.4 percent of his 3s (3.2 per game). During that same stretch, he has averaged 16.3 ppg and shot 50.0 percent from the field. Granted, that has come without much else in any other categories (3.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.3 bpg), but Murray does have point guard skills (and four games of four-plus assists so far this season), so there’s potential for more than just points and 3s here.

In closing, I do understand the concerns about the Denver rotation. If you watch a Nuggets game, it’s easy to wonder how there’s room for everyone — and it will get even more complicated once Gary Harris (foot) is back. But another thing happens when you watch a Nuggets game: You quickly see that Murray has a set of skills that will make it pretty difficult — if not impossible — for Mike Malone to keep him off the court. The cliche in situations like this is that these things have a way of working themselves out, and I do believe that in some lineup dilemmas — including this one — that’s true. Murray’s season numbers still don’t look impressive (9.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.4 spg, 1.8 3s), but in the long run — and for the remainder of this season — he has some pretty exciting potential.

Other Random Thoughts: In case it wasn’t obvious that I’ve been watching too much Nuggets basketball lately, you have to love what we’re seeing from Wilson Chandler. Even though he’s coming off the bench, he enters the game with a very bright flashing green light. Over his last six games, the Sixth Man of the Year contender is averaging 19.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.7 spg and 1.5 3s. The Nuggets have had “big plans” for Chandler for a while, and even though he’s coming off the bench, he should remain a legitimate focal point for Denver going forward. … The Dennis Schroder experience has been quite maddening lately (last three games: 8.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 28.1 percent from the field). The only consolation I can offer is that he still looks pretty dynamic at times, and it wasn’t that long ago that he appeared to be figuring things out. Between Nov. 4th and 16th, Schroder posted 17.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.0 apg, 0.6 spg and 1.7 3s (on 45.9 percent from the field) in seven games. I know it’s challenging, but stay patient. 

Random Thoughts, Part Two: Victor Oladipo seemed to have (understandably) had some trouble figuring out how to play alongside the supernova that is Russell Westbrook. Lately though, he’s been figuring it out pretty decisively. Oladipo’s last five games: 20.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.6 bpg and 3.0 3s. … After a frustrating start to the season, DeMarre Carroll’s last two games (with one game of rest in between them) look like this: 18.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 spg, 1.5 bpg and 2.5 3s. I’m still a little concerned about the possibility of DNP - Rest going forward, but the 30-year-old has a chance to be a very useful asset in 3s and steals the rest of the way. (Toronto plays four times, with one back-to-back, next week.) … Gorgui Dieng has certainly been helpful this season (he’s the No. 68 player on basketballmonster.com's 9-category leaderboard), but frankly I’m disappointed with his blocks. In 2014-15, he averaged 1.7 bpg. Last year he was at 1.2 (including 1.6 in his last 25 games). This season, though, he’s at 1.1 bpg, and has had one or fewer blocks in 11 out of 14 games. It’s a little bit nitpicky, but it’s a noteworthy nitpick nonetheless^.

*Think somewhere between Eastwood and Barmes.

^Please forgive that excessive alliteration a second ago.

Matt Stroup

Matt Stroup has covered basketball for NBC Sports Edge since 2008. You can find him on Twitter here .