In the whole “Rest vs. Rhythm” debate, the biggest con towards the rhythm route the Rockets have taken is the possibility of an injury. The Rockets lost Ryan Anderson last week, but he looks to be back at some point early in the playoffs.
However, upon first glance, the dislocated shoulder Luc Mbah a Moute suffered in last night’s win over the Lakers looks like it could keep him out for most, if not all, of the postseason. He underwent an MRI today to see how severe the damages are.
Though Mike D’Antoni told the media last night that he doesn’t think it is as serious as it looked, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he will likely miss at least the first round.
After MRI this morning, Houston's Luc Mbah A Moute is likely to miss first-round of playoffs with dislocated right shoulder, league source tells ESPN. For now, there's no clear timetable on return.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2018
Mbah a Moute has missed 20 games this season due to injury, which is the most he’s sat out in a season since the 2012-13 campaign, his final season with the Bucks. He suffered a shoulder injury back in December that kept him out for fifteen games spanning over a month. If the timetable for that injury is similar to this one, that should keep him out until at least the Western Conference Finals, if the Rockets get there.
In his first season with the Rockets, LMAM has career-highs in steals (1.2) and effective FG percentage (57.2). However, Mbah a Moute’s impact is shown more on the floor as opposed to the box score.
When Mbah a Moute is on the court, the Rockets have a defensive rating of 104.3, and when he is off the court, the team has a defensive rating of 108.8. Although the offense slips with him on the floor, it is still one of the best in the league.
Usually with Luc on the floor, he has the ability to guard 1-5, something that P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza, to a lesser extent, can do as well. However, he can drive to the cup better than Tucker and Ariza can. Both of them usually find their corner three, which Mbah a Moute does amazingly well too, but Mbah a Moute can pump fake and drive baseline. He finishes better than his other wing penetrators when he gets there, too.
When LMAM is on the floor, the Rockets can switch everything. Without him on the floor, that job becomes a little harder. Ariza is the closest thing to him, but Mbah a Moute was strongest when coming off the bench for Ariza.
This does not totally pop the Rockets’ balloon per se, but it certainly takes some air out of it. Mbah a Moute adds depth and versatility to a second unit that is bound to give teams problems in the playoffs. The Rockets will simply have to find players like Tucker, Ariza, Gerald Green, and Joe Johnson to fill in those gaps and hopefully the Rockets will make it deep enough to where LMAM can make a return in time for when the Rockets face stiffer competition.