Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute has earned 99% of his NBA playing time from his lockdown defense immeasurable by traditional and (most) advanced statistics. There will always be an NBA roster spot for tweener defensive specialists like Mbah a Moute (see: Bruce Bowen, Tony Allen), who have the ability to rotate between covering a 7’0” center one night and a 6’0” point guard the next.
Now that Carlos Delfino is locked up for another affordable year of hopefully healthy perimeter shooting and flash athleticism, Mbah a Moute is the only Bucks free-agent-to-be worthy of an extended contract from GM John Hammond.
There’s an argument to be made that a team that misses more shots than villains in superhero movies shouldn’t spend current and future money on a defensive specialist with very limited offensive skills. Mbah a Moute’s 2010-11 season averages did fall in line with his career stats, but there were a few signs that he’s starting to figure out how to contribute consistently on offense.
One noticeable improvement seen from Mbah a Moute this season can be found in his eight double-doubles in 79 games. Considering Mbah a Moute totaled seven in his previous 155 games before this season, that’s a fairly encouraging number. Those eight double-doubles, along with a couple other notable performances from the 2010-11 season, provide a good look into how and where Mbah a Moute finds offensive success.
In his best 10 games of the 2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks season (including the eight double-doubles), Luc Mbah a Moute averaged 13.8 points on 4.4-9 shots (49%), and 11.7 rebounds (higher than Andrew Bogut’s season average, for what it’s worth). Mbah a Moute also collected an average of 5.7 offensive boards, and nearly tripled his free throw makes and attempts (5.2-6.2, 83.8%).
Most of Mbah a Moute’s offensive success comes from under the basket, knifing in for an offensive put back, or a catch-and-shoot from between 16 and 23 feet. Roughly 58% of Mbah a Moute’s shot in those 10 games came around the cup (33-52 fg, 63.5% shooting). Mbah a Moute took 25% of his shots between 16-23 feet at a highly respectable 45.5% clip (10-22 fg).
Luc Mbah a Moute has gradually learned how to compliment his defensive strengths with a decent mid-range jumper, athleticism around the rim, and the ability to accelerate and maneuver into the paint to grab an offensive rebound after starting the play along the perimeter. His improvements on offense have added some value to his game, and the Bucks would be wise to bring the 24-year-old Mbah a Moute back for at least another couple seasons.
After all, great defenders are never out of place on a great defensive team, especially when they learn how to stay useful on the other end of the court.
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