Kevin Capers made strides with the Westchester Knicks during the 2016-17 season. How did the Florida Southern product fare in his second season?
After finishing his collegiate career at Florida Southern, Kevin Capers was taken in the third round (57th overall) of the NBA G League Draft by the Westchester Knicks. He joined a backcourt of Travis Trice, Jimmer Fredette and Jordon Crawford. With a talented backcourt in place, minutes were hard to come by during the 2015-16 season.
In his rookie season, Capers played in 37 of the Knicks 50 games, and also played in the team’s two playoff games, while playing 9.3 minutes per game. Even with that, he was able to have some solid games throughout the season such as totaling 24 points the Grand Rapids Drive and Maine Red Claws.
Despite the limited playing time, the Florida Southern product returned for a second season with the hopes of improving his overall game. When he returned to Westchester, he knew he would receive significant playing time.
“I played limited minutes last year and I knew if I came back this year, I actually would play a lot,” Kevin Capers said in February. “And I wanted to prove myself. This is like one of the top leagues in the world. Even though it’s the D-League [now the NBA G League], it’s right down in the NBA. And I felt like if I can have a successful season here, I can go overseas and play pretty much anywhere.”
By returning for a second season, Kevin Capers had the most to gain. The playing time was going to be there. Capers started the season by coming off the bench, but still played an important role due to his scoring and ability to draw contact. He scored in double figures three times in his first five games while shooting 84.3 percent (27-of-32) from the charity stripe.
Throughout the season, Kevin Capers displayed his shooting presence. Early on, the Westchester Knicks had a hard-fought battle against their division foe, the Delaware 87ers. In the final minute of the game, both teams traded shots that left the crowd in awe. In the final 15 seconds of the game, the Florida Southern product drained a clutch mid-range jumper, which gave the Knicks the lead following that basket.
Kevin Capers said that moment reminded him of his days at Florida Southern.
“It took me back to my Florida Southern days,” Capers said. “It was a great time. But then again coach [Mike Miller] left me in the game, which I’m not used to in the professional games. But it showed he had a little trust in me. If I made mistakes out there, I’m going to learn from them and that shows he has a lot of trust in us.”
During the season, Kevin Capers had several efficient shooting games. One of his most productive games came during the Knicks’ five game road trip in March. With injuries hampering the team, Westchester had eight players, including Maurice Ndour on assignment, suit up for the team. Not only was Capers able to score 21 points on 9-of-15 from the field and 2-of-4 from deep, but he had an impact on the defensive end. He totaled three or more steals in four consecutive games.
One of the challenges the 6-foot-2 guard faced was learning a new position. When he played at Florida Southern, he mainly played off the ball. In his second season, he was adjusting to becoming a point guard.
Kevin Capers showed good vision and made some nifty passes throughout the season. In February of 2017, John Jenkins fled off a defender and got into the lane as Capers fired a bullet pass to him. Jenkins finished with the reverse lay-up to give the Knicks a five-point lead at that point.
In their match-up against the Long Island Nets, Capers dished out several superb assists. Early in the game, he dished a bounce pass to Doron Lamb who finished backdoor for the first two points of the game. Later on in the game, the Winter Haven, FL native had an opportunity for a corner three, but made an extra pass to Lamb who drained a 3-pointer.
At the midway point in the final quarter, the Knicks had a 4-on-1 on the Nets. Capers faked a pass to Lamb then dropped it off to a trailing Jaylen Bond, who scored the bucket and pushed the Knicks over the 100-point mark.
On Mar. 16, 2017, Kevin Capers notched his first double-double of his professional career. He finished the game with 14 points, 10 assists, three rebounds, and three steals in 29 minutes of action. After recording his first double-double , Capers dedicated it to his late grandmother.
After seeing his growth during his two years with the team, Westchester Knicks head coach Mike Miller said Capers is one of those players that has seen a lot of growth during the season.
“As we’ve moved into the second half [of the season], he is one of the guys that we are seeing the most growth where he’s come,” Miller said. “The decision-making, the plays, [and] the confidence. We hit some rough patches, but that’s what young guys go through and I think you’re seeing he’s reaping the rewards of some of those tough days.”
“He’s learned and he’s playing really well,” Miller continued. “I thought the biggest thing is he played most of the fourth quarter with five fouls and that is the growth of him. Maturing and seeing things and seeing the big picture and being able to make plays.”
After playing two seasons in the NBA G League with the Westchester Knicks, Kevin Capers rated his season with a B minus.
“Probably a B minus. I can do a lot better,” Capers said. “Like I said, I played shooting guard a lot in college and I’m learning to playing point guard, which is tough, but I’d give myself a B minus. It could be an A, but my defensive play has been up and down, which is tough. Decision making. In my last four games, if I play better defense and decision-making, I’ll bump it up to a B plus.”
During the 2016-17 season, Capers averaged 9.0 points, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 22.9 minutes per game.
After Kevin Capers finished his second season in Westchester, he joined Trigueros de Obregon in Mexico. In his first game with the team, he totaled 11 points, seven assists, and four steals in 26 minutes of action. After learning to become a distributor in his second season, Capers has carried that to his new squad.
Since joining Trigueros de Obregon, the team is 14-8 and has won six of their last seven games. In 20 appearances, Kevin Capers is averaging 15.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.0 steals on 53.8 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from deep in 31.5 minutes per game.