Disclaimer: This is split into two parts. The first is a story on Clint Capela, and the second is the fight for backup center in the preseason.
Clint Capela is back to live work at practice. Thank you Lord.
But, the Hawks obviously are going to be extra cautious with him. Last year, Capela was the league-leading rebounder, averaging 14 per game to go along with 15 points. He’s the most physical on the team in the paint defensively, and he’s the most powerful guy in the paint for us. He was great, calling back powers (and celebrations) from Hawks legend Mutumbo and being the perfect person to throw a lob to. He just WORKS with Trae and the drive to the rim, then work from the paint game plan.
He also just signed a two-year extension, which is a very smart move by Travis Schlenk. He was a core piece in our ECF run last year, so why wouldn’t he get his money? He might want a max in the future, so just extend him to save money later for our wing talent (Huerter, Reddish, Hunter).
Everything is going well for Capela right now, except for missing the first few games of this year, but I am worried for his long-term future with the team, and it relates to John Collins.
JC, in my opinion, should play as the 3 (He can’t because of De’Andre Hunter). He usually doesn’t drive to the paint on a 1v1, he steps back and hits a jump shot, which worked a ton in the playoffs. Shooting 55% from the field also shows his growth in that area of the game that is mostly forgotten. But, JC is also very inconsistent. He makes highlight-reel plays, but his stats are dependent on if his energy is on or off. His work ethic just can shut off at any moment, and usually leads to foul-outs.
His defense really struggles, as well. Him and Capela both have a hard time getting physical and bearing down on the attacks from the modern-day superstar bigs (Giannis, Embiid). It just won’t be sustainable in the long term.
You can tell the Hawks need a second star next to Trae, that we are missing just one piece. JC can’t be the second option, but he can be the third or fourth. And if we were to get rid of somebody, it would never be Collins because of his connection with Trae. If we were to upgrade the frontcourt for a superstar (think it should be the backcourt in place of Bogi, but this easily could happen), Capela would be the one to go.
Another factor that puts Capela at risk in a few years is the development of last year’s 6th pick, Onyeka Okongwu (OO). He was injured for the beginning of the year and only started getting minutes when Nate McMillan took over as coach. And, dang, he shined bright. He comes on in the ECF and just shuts down Giannis.
Nobody stops the inevitable force in the paint that is Giannis. When he is barging is, no one can stop him. Until OO came to play, blocking Giannis multiple times and holding him to zero-to-none scoring. He is injured again, out for half the year, and that is concerning, but after this game, it always seemed like the plan was for Capela to mentor OO until he took the starting job. But Capela is just too good to be a bench player, which could lead to his departure from the Hawks in due time.
Here’s hope that Capela, OO, and JC can all stay together at the core and improve.
Before the inevitable decision time comes for the front office.
Keep Scrolling For Preseason Notes (Featured On The Backup Center Role) And Explanation Of 5 Out
PRESEASON: The Hunt For A Backup Center
The backup center role was always going to be Gorgui Dieng’s while Okongwu was injured. Picked up in FA this year, Dieng is a solid veteran center from the Grizzlies who has shown his high IQ in the preseason.
Problem: He’s partially injured (coming back soon, right hand sprain.)
Clint Capela is obviously occupying the starting role.
Problem: He’s injured, which means banged up Dieng is the starter momentarily.
Therefore, with OO also out, the backup center battle comes down to two players fighting for one roster spot with two other wanna-be’s (Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot and DaQuon Jefferies).
Jahil Okafor: Okafor was the, oh, wait, really? WOW.
He just got waived. My bad. So, I guess we know who’s got it.
Johnny Hamilton, the 27 year old center who’s played overseas and tried over and over to stay on a NBA roster, seems to have got the spot. If I were the Hawks and we needed a backup center, I would give the 15th roster spot to Hamilton. In his limited minutes in the preseason (about 10 per game), he has averaged around 5 points from what I have seen and a few rebounds. He was the only real center that impressed (other than Dieng).
Unless the Hawks FO pulls a shocker and let’s one of the wings take the final spot (which then would require us to trade for a temporary backup center), Hamilton should play his second ever NBA game for the Hawks (played one in Detroit in 2018).
Comment down below who you think the Hawks should trade for at center if they waive Hamilton.
THE 5 OUT:
The 5 Out is Shooter McGrady’s newsletter/newspaper report on all things NBA, coming out about once every week with 5 main points.
I am the Hawks beat writer for the newsletter, and I get to talk specifically about my favorite team. All other slots (but the Jazz and Hawks) are open, so if you want to apply to write for YOUR favorite team, comment and tell me below, and I will notify Shooter. Thanks!!!