Analyzing the addition of Luc Mbah a Moute


Luc Mbah a Moute’s first go with the Sacramento Kings ended in a cliffhanger so we’ll get a season two.

The seven-year veteran signed an undisclosed deal with the team on Tuesday. Mbah a Moute returns to the town that praised his arrival when the Kings shipped two second round picks to the Bucks in July 2013.

His niche in Sacramento was never realized, as he missed the start of the season with left knee pain and played nine games before getting traded to Minnesota for Derrick Williams.

Second time around, Mbah a Moute hopes he can regain his reputation as an elite stopper.

Mbah a Moute adds to a hectic offseason. For Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli’s fits with the team, click here. Here for Kosta Koufos and Omri Casspi’s potential roles. For Caron Butler’s click here. Sacramento’s roster now stands at 15 players.

Luc Mbah a Moute

Value: Reserve defender ready when needed.

At his best, Mbah a Moute is a lockdown defender who can cover point guards through power forwards. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder trails his man like a shadow, making entry passes to his assignment a chore. Mbah a Moute’s 7-foot wingspan and shuffling feet swallow drivers near the perimeter, and he possesses the discipline to stay home on pump fakes. He doesn’t collect many steals or blocks, but the UCLA Bruin lets the opposition’s poor field goal percentage do the talking.

Unfortunately, Mbah a Moute hasn’t reached his best level of play since his early seasons with the Bucks. Injuries across the body have limited his career as the 37th pick in the 2008 draft has appeared in 70 games only three times.

Not related to physical ailments, Mbah a Moute’s worst stretch of basketball came following his trade to the Timberwolves, when was phased out of Rick Adelman’s rotation in favor of shooters.

He redeemed himself as the 76ers starting power forward for 61 games last season, holding opponents to three percent below their usual shooting accuracy overall. Yet a career-high 28.6 minute average for a bucket-thirsty club thoroughly exposed his weaknesses as a scorer.

Mbah a Moute is a face-up slasher with an occasional post-up wrinkle. Over the years he has settled for more jumpers. For his career he is a 29 percent shooter between three and 10 feet of the basket and a 31 percent marksman between 10 and 16. In Philadelphia, Mbah a Moute launched three triples per game (his previous career-high was 0.6) and he connected on 30.7 percent. As a career 29.9 percent shooter from downtown, he edges Josh Smith.

The Kings, who have many mouths to feed, will usher Mbah a Moute away from situations he’ll have to score or facilitate. Instead he’ll be asked to crash the glass in addition to his varying defensive responsibilities. Mbah a Moute has hauled in 2.6 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes for his career.

With a logjam of players on the wing, Mbah a Moute has a short leash on minutes. Returning to his starting job at the three is an idea if Rudy Gay runs the four, but the Kings could struggle to space the floor with a lineup featuring Rajon Rondo. More realistically, Mbah a Moute will be another card for coach George Karl to throw out on the court when an opposing scorer is wreaking havoc.

Final Analysis

Expectations for Mbah a Moute have lessened in his second tour of duty. Nonetheless a clean slate of health and expanding knowledge for the game give no reason why the 28-year-old can’t smother opponents again.

Mbah a Moute will have to earn his minutes, but his expertise protecting the arc is sorely needed. Eventually the Kings will expect tangible defensive contributions out of what is assumed to be a low-cost, make-good investment.



About: Rui Thomas

Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.