Will Clint Capela Speed Up the Hawks’ Rebuild or Complicate It?Atlanta made a bold move to acquire the former Rockets big man before the trade deadline, but the traditional center could prove to be an awkward fit if everything doesn’t go as planned
Bringing Clint Capela into the fold to screen, dive, dunk, and swat could mean the expected completion date of the Hawks’ slow-and-steady rebuilding project is about to move up slightly. It also raises some questions about whether a team that’s been building very intentionally for the past two and a half years is still cool with sticking to the same blueprint.
The deal landed a lot of faces in new places, with Atlanta coming away with Capela—a spring-heeled 25-year-old rim runner and rim protector who, in keeping with Schlenk’s philosophy of assembling carefully curated pieces
to surround Young, seems like a hand-in-glove fit for the Hawks’ needs.
[Capela] was far and away James Harden’s favorite target for lobs, pocket passes, dump-offs, and dimes during his tenure in Houston; one imagines him quickly developing a productive partnership with a similarly inventive creator in Young...As central as Capela figures to be as a pick-and-roll hub, his impact might be felt even more acutely on the defensive end, where the Hawks have been dreadful all season.
Dropping Capela into Atlanta’s ecosystem, then, should help amplify Atlanta’s primary strength (the pick-and-roll playmaking of Young and the potency of the offense it generates) and address its main weakness; namely, the persistent inability to stop anyone from getting free layups on them.
The hope is that Capela will hit the ground running; that Collins will become a viable spread 4 who can pivot back to the 5 when Clint sits, ensuring that Atlanta always has a high-end rim-running finisher on the court; that Young remains the straw that stirs the drink; and that Atlanta nudges north toward mediocrity rather than despair, restoring some of the positive vibes that cropped up late last season and led many of us (present company included) to wonder whether the precocious Hawks might be ahead of schedule. If all doesn’t go according to plan, though, we might start wondering something else: how long Young, now a bona fide All-Star, will be content with not getting the kind of help he feels he needs, and how long Pierce, Schlenk, and the rest of Atlanta’s brain trust will have to get it for him.