Luc Mbah a Moute finished his second season with the Los Angles Clippers in 2016-17. His offensive improvement gave his stellar defense more chances to shine.
Luc Mbah a Moute has always been a defense-first player, and he showed more of the same during his first year with the Los Angeles Clippers. While his defense was elite in 2015-16, his poor shooting and lack of an offensive game held him to just 17.0 minutes per game.
Mbah a Moute improved drastically on offense in year two, which helped him to stay on the court. Mbah a Moute started all but six of the Clippers’ games this season. He coupled his always stellar defense with a corner three-point shot that gave him far more value on the offensive end.
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Mbah a Moute holds a player option for 2017-18 for $2.3 million. Given his solid play this year, he will probably opt out of that deal for long-term security. The Los Angeles Clippers should try to do all they can to keep Luc around, as his defensive value will fit in well with whoever remains on the Clippers after a critical upcoming free agency period.
Offense: Adding a corner three
Although Luc Mbah a Moute has always been a great defensive player, his offense fell far short of his defense. His highest career True Shooting Percentage before this season was 54.4 percent, and his career mark before this year was a paltry 49.9 percent. Furthermore, he only cracked 35 percent from deep twice in his career, and only once cracked 50 percent from the floor. Mbah a Moute managed just 3.1 points per game in 2015-16.
The Clippers wing turned those shooting difficulties around in remarkable fashion this year. One year after putting up .454/.325/.526 shooting splits, Mbah a Moute jumped to .505/.391/.678 splits this year. His True Shooting Percentage of 58.1 percent was by far his career high.
Luc managed to improve his offensive efficiency by adding a corner three-point shot. Mbah a Moute made just 12 of 36 corner triples in 2015-16. However, he canned 41.9 percent of his three-point shots from the corner this past season. Instead of completely ignoring him on offense, teams had to pay attention when Luc was abandoned in the corner:
Luc will never be a primary option on offense, or anything more than a fifth option. However, in one year he jumped from a massive negative on offense to neutral at best. One could argue that his efficient shooting and good shot selection might even make him a slight positive on that end of the floor.
Defense: Lockdown Defender
While Luc Mbah a Moute has improved on offense, he certainly has not sacrificed his defensive play in the process. Luc excels in both traditional and advanced defensive metrics. He averaged 1.6 steals per game in 22.3 minutes per game. Additionally, his Defensive RPM of 2.32 ranked ninth among power forwards league-wide per ESPN.com.
Mbah a Moute does not just rank well in Defensive RPM. His Defensive Rating of 102 points allowed per 100 possessions was the second-best among regulars for the Los Angeles Clippers. That number ranked just behind Chris Paul‘s mark of 101.3 points per 100 possessions allowed. When Mbah a Moute sat, the Clippers Defensive Rating collapsed to 109 — only Paul had a larger Net Defensive Rating.
Luc’s defense jumps out just as much on film as it does in the advanced numbers. He always guards the toughest opponent on the wing and does so quite well. He moves his feet well in man coverage. In pick-and-roll coverage, he hedges effectively when needed and makes solid decisions in switching defensive coverages. The only complaint about his defense would be his middling contributions on the defensive glass. However, that is more than offset by his defensive play — especially with DeAndre Jordan patrolling the boards.
Overall: Perfect fit for the Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are approaching a potentially tumultuous offseason. Now that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have officially opted out of their contracts per the LA Times‘ Broderick Turner, the Clippers will have a lot of cap space and some competition for their All-Star players.
The same article notes that Mbah a Moute has until June 29 to decide on his player option for next year. Given his offensive growth and defensive prowess, he will almost certainly get more than $2.3 million in free agency.
The Clippers should do all that they can to retain Mbah a Moute’s services. He is a nearly perfect complementary player alongside either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin. If both players return, Mbah a Moute would be even more valuable. Regardless of the rest of their offseason moves, Luc Mbah a Moute was effective enough this year to earn himself another contract in Los Angeles.