Luc Mbah a Moute’s shooting improvement this year will allow the LA Clippers to play him more minutes and keep their defensive stopper on the floor.
The LA Clippers have a chance any time Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are healthy and step on the court, but they are not the most important Clippers. That title belongs to Luc Mbah a Moute. He is the defensive stopper that allows head coach Doc Rivers to put Paul on teams’ second or third options, gifting Paul a chance to use more of his energy on offense.
Luc is having his best season on the offensive end and he needs to keep it up, because he’s the most important player for the Clippers’ championship run.
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Luc has consistently been a solid defensive player throughout his career. With his long reach and quick hands and feet he is able to defend every position from point guard to power forward. Each night for the Clippers he takes on the top defensive assignment and has done a great job this season.
The knock has always been his inability to shoot. Teams will often leave him wide open and force the Clippers to play four on five. In the plays below, Vince Carter left him to clog up DeAndre Jordan’s roll to the paint, Derrick Favors went to help on Jamal Crawford’s drive, Kobe Bryant doubled Griffin and not a single Laker ran at him to contest. All of these resulted in missed shots for the Clippers.
Spacing is so important in the NBA, and that’s the case now more than ever; Paul and Griffin are deadly when they have proper spacing around them. Last year it was difficult to obtain that spacing with Luc on the court. He only averaged 0.5 three-point attempts a game and connected on just 32.5 percent. He was hardly automatic inside the three-point line either, shooting 48.5 on two-point attempts and only 54.1 percent within three feet of the basket (where more than half his field goal attempts came from).
This year, Luc has become more of an offensive threat and is making teams pay when they leave him to help. In the play below, Jerian Grant of the Chicago Bulls helped on Brandon Bass’ roll to the rim and left Luc alone in the corner. As the ball is swung, Grant never attempts to recover to Luc who drilled the three.
Teams will start to close out harder on Luc and he has to be able to attack on those close outs.
Later in the same game he did just that. Dwyane Wade stayed a second too long as J.J. Redick drove to the rim and left Luc in the corner. Wade closed out hard, but that opened a driving lane for Luc to get to the rim.
Luc has shot the ball well this season for the LA Clippers and he needs to maintain his current pace for the good of those around him.
Teams will need to be aware of where he is on the court. He’s shooting 40 from three this season while attempting 1.4 a game; he’s also shooting 58.5 percent from within the arc as well.
He shouldn’t be a high volume scorer for the Clippers, but he must command the respect of the defense. His ability to defend is critical, but last year he was a liability at the other end of the floor.
This year things have changed, and he’s getting more minutes a game to prove it. Luc Mbah a Moute is the most important Clipper because if he can keep shooting like this, it will give Paul and Griffin the spacing they need to do their thing.