The Concern Behind Luc Mbah a Moute's Shoulder

By Matthew Cardenas on May 18, 2018
Embed from Getty Images

Luc Mbah a Moute was one of the prized offseason acquisitions for the Rockets last summer. The fact that Daryl Morey and the Rockets were able to sign him for the veteran minimum is incredible. Many in the NBA feel his value is far beyond that when you look at players like Andre Roberson, who makes $10 million a year. Both players are known for the defensive abilities and the case could be made for Mbah a Moute having a more polished offensive game. His play has been a factor in the Rockets finishing the regular season with the 6th best defensive rating (106.1).

Mbah a Moute has dealt with a dislocated shoulder twice this season. The most recent occurred during the 81st game of the regular season against the Lakers after a high flying finish at the rim. A second dislocation would force him to miss the entirety of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Fortunately, he was not needed as the Rockets were able to eliminate the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games. He would make his return in the second round of the playoffs, with the Rockets eliminating the Utah Jazz in five games. His value for the Rockets was expected to be shown right now as they are facing off against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The ability of Mbah a Moute to guard multiple positions on the wing had many feeling the Rockets could knock off the defending champions.

If one thing is clear right now, it is that Mbah a Moute does not have full confidence in his shoulder. He has openly discussed that nervousness to attack at the rim as well. Mbah a Moute is going to defend and look to make life difficult for the Warriors top players. His contributions on the offensive end could be a difference maker in the outcome of this series, though. We have seen Mbah a Moute miss finishes at the rim throughout the Conference Finals that would have been different if he were at full health.

This is a basic PnR between Paul and Mbah a Moute that should have a resulted in an easy two points. Even with Shaun Livingston helping and looking to alter the shot, Mbah a Moute likely finishes the bucket if the shoulder was at full strength and he had the confidence.

Mbah a Moute gets past Draymond Green with the shot fake, resulting in Klay Thompson and David West both sliding over to contest. He is actually able to get a clean look at the end but is still unable to finish at the rim. Mbah a Moute usually has success driving on the baseline.

He would finish Game One 0-6 from the field and only played six minutes in Game 2. Gerald Green got the nod for more playing time as Mike D'Antoni is starting to realize Mbah a Moute's shoulder is not at 100 percent. Even with the defensive game there, it is hard to leave him on the court if he is a liability on the offensive end.

Luckily for the Rockets, Mbah a Moute's offense was not needed in Game 2. Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza combined for 68 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. The majority know that this offensive performance from all three will likely not be replicated at this high of a level, though.

It will be interesting to see what route D'Antoni takes for the remainder of the Western Conference Finals. Game 2 was played on Wednesday and Game 3 is not until Sunday. This could be a valuable time for Mbah a Moute to rest the shoulder and hopefully gain more confidence. If that is not the case, it is possible he ends up riding the bench while Green takes the minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment