Thunder Draft Preview (Clint Capela)

By Randy Renner

Since the Thunder have two draft picks in the first round and perceived needs at backup point guard, shooting guard and backup power forward or center there are lots of possibilities in play for Oklahoma City.

Thunder GM Sam Presti has also made it no secret that he and his staff won't hesitate to trade one or both picks if a good deal comes along.

That being said we continue with our preview profiling players the Thunder might be interested in for one or both of those picks.

CLINT CAPELA (Power Forward/Center, Switzerland)

A couple of reports that surfaced over the last couple of weeks indicated the Thunder had promised Euro center Kristaps Porzingis they would take him with the 21st pick if he was still on the board at that time.

Sunday Porzingis took his name out of the draft, preferring to remain in Europe for another season. So, could the Thunder be targeting another big playing in Europe?

The guys putting together the latest mock draft posted at DraftExpress.com think so because they have Clint Capela going to OKC with the 21st pick.

Capela just turned 20 last month. He's 6-11, 222 pounds, so he needs to gain some weight and muscle mass before he can bang away down low in the NBA.

Thunder backup center Steven Adams weighs 35 to 40 pounds more than Capela right now.

Adams is the Thunder's center of the future, perhaps as soon as next season, but depth among the Thunder bigs is about to become a big issue. Kendrick Perkins probably won't be around anymore past next season, Nick Collison's contract expires also and Hasheem Thabeet may not be back for this coming season.

The need is there to start grooming a backup for the future.

Capela has been impressive during his work in the French Pro League with Chalon and in fact has been rated the #1 international prospect by ESPN's Kevin Pelton.

He averaged 9.4 points on 63.2 percent shooting while pulling down 6.9 rebounds and blocking 1.5 shots for Chalon during the French league's regular season and actually brought some of those numbers up during his team's play in the Euro Cup when he averaged 11.2 points on 71.8 percent shooting. His rebounds dropped just a bit to 6.5 and his blocks fell off a bit too down to 1.1 per game.

He's not a perimeter threat at all, he didn't take any shots from beyond the arc, but around the rim he's been an outstanding finisher on offense. He also has huge hands (10 inches across) and catches the ball very well.

On defense, he's pretty adept at blocking shots but his lack of bulk is an issue and he gets pushed around pretty easily by thicker, stronger players. But, remember he did just turn 20 a few weeks ago so he has time to bulk up.

Capela's star has been on the rise lately and he may not still be on the board when the Thunder pick. The latest NBA.com mock draft has him going to Phoenix with the 18th selection.

Capela would more than likely be a draft and stash guy who would play another season in Europe before coming to the NBA.