Short on wing depth, the OKC Thunder must target Luc Mbah a Moute

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 05: Luc Mbah a Moute
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 05: Luc Mbah a Moute /

The OKC Thunder must prioritize solidifying its depth on its wings. With Carmelo Anthony on his way out, Oklahoma City should target Luc Mbah a Moute.

With the Carmelo Anthony – OKC Thunder partnership coming to a close, OKC need to add wing depth. One name on the market surprisingly is Luc Mbah a Moute.

The Cameroonian played a pivotal role in the Houston Rockets success last season, bringing defensive intensity to a normally paper thin defense. His partnership with PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza formed one of the fiercest defensive wing rotations, causing problems to opposing offenses with their sheer length and defensive nous. Moute finished the year with a 101.2 defensive rating and a +10.6 net rating.

At 6’7, 230 pounds, Mbah a Moute is a rangy defender who effectively utilizes his 7’2 wingspan to incur deflections and accumulate steals. Oklahoma City were first in steals (9.0), deflections (16.3) and loose balls recovered (9.6) per game. Adding Mbah a Moute to an Andre Roberson, Paul George and Jerami Grant rotation will make opposing offenses quiver.

Positional Flexibility

Mbah a Moute is also a capable power forward. Although he struggles against bulkier fours, he competes on the block and attacks the glass.

In todays’ NBA, clubs are trending toward position-less basketball with traditional big men like Derrick Favors and Taj Gibson rendered extinct. Only the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs continue to play with traditional line-ups. In these cases, OKC will deploy Patrick Patterson to bang on the block. His robust size makes him a better match-up against traditional bigs. Patterson is a very good one on one defender and holds his own against quicker fours. However, Moute is an excellent secondary option if Pat struggles against forwards of the Kyle Kuzma variety.

The Rockets were 6th in defensive rating (103.8) and 7th in points allowed per game (103.9) last season, utilizing a switch all defensive scheme to stifle opposing offenses. In these cases, Houston played Mbah a Moute at power forward to increase its perimeter defense. With Oklahoma City running a similar scheme, Mbah a Moute will slide right in.

Threat from three

The 10-year veteran has added a serviceable 3-point shot to his game. After shooting 39 percent for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2016-17, the Cameroonian shot a respectable 36.4 percent on 2.8 attempts for the Rockets last year. While he’s not a sniper from distance, teams must account for him on the perimeter.

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The Cameroonian also offers an insurance policy for Roberson. If teams start to sag or employ the hack-a-Dre, Billy Donovan can replace him. Mbah a Moute is only a 66 percent free throw shooter,  but Roberson shoots a poultry 46.7 percent. As good as Dre’s defense is, OKC fans cringe when he heads to the line.

Final Word

After signing Chris Paul to a ridiculous four-year, 160-million-dollar deal, the Rockets are right up against the cap.

With defensive ace Trevor Ariza departing for the Phoenix Suns and Capella unhappy with his four-year, 48-million-dollar extension offer, Houston could lose all three in one full swoop. Oklahoma City must capitalize on Houston’s troubles by effectively stealing Mbah a Moute from underneath them. If Houston lose the Cameroonian, a huge chunk of their defensive identity is lost.

A potential forward rotation of Roberson, George, Grant, Patterson and Moute combined with centers Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel is mouth watering. Before Roberson’s injury, the Thunder had a top three defense that thrived on suffocating teams. Adding Mbah a Moute to the mix solidify’s OKC’s depth and brings another defensive mind to the fray.

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With all of this in mind, adding the Cameroonian seems like a no-brainer.