Throughout most of the season, Luc Mbah a Moute was deemed one of the biggest bargains of last year’s free agency period when he signed a veteran’s minimum one-year deal with the Houston Rockets. And despite his lackluster playoffs, it should not take away from the solid year he had overall.
LMAM’s lack of health in the playoffs, specifically against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, hurt the Rockets tremendously. Had the Rockets gotten the Luc that had shown up early in the season, the Rockets might be playing in Game 4 of the NBA Finals tonight. However, injuries piled up and stunted his growth.
LMAM missed 21 games in the regular season, most of them missed due to a shoulder injury he sustained in December. In the regular season, he was allowed to take his team to heal the shoulder and when he returned, he was an effective scorer off the bench for the Rockets. He was seen as a 3-and-D catalyst and he often guarded the opponent’s best player.
However, in the playoffs, with more pressure to compete, Mbah a Moute rushed his return and it made him unplayable. If he’s played his final game as a Rocket, his most memorable moment will be his missed lay-ups in the early games of the Western Conference Finals, which will be disappointing.
LMAM did not have many iconic moments throughout the season, except for one game in December where he set an NBA record for +/- in a game with a +57.
He significantly improved and changed the defensive identity of the team, something the team lacked last season, and a lot of what he brought to the team was stuff that you cannot see in the box score. Forcing top shooters into difficult spots as a player off the bench brought a strong amount of depth to the team that not every team was able to enjoy.
He gave Trevor Ariza a huge reprieve and allowed him to shrink his minute allotment throughout the season. This helped a lot throughout the playoffs and Ariza was able to last a lot longer in the playoffs than he did last year.
I often said throughout the season that this would be LMAM’s only season in Houston because someone would offer him a raise. However, as he enters his age-32 season and his health up in the air, it is possible that the Rockets could add him back on the same salary. The small forward position has a lot of question marks heading into this offseason, and LMAM is not the first question on the exam. It will come later, and depending on what the answers are for the first few questions will affect what the answer is to the Mbah a Moute dilemma.
What he brought to the team this year is exactly what they needed, but they did not have it all year long, and when they needed him most, he could not stay healthy. Can the Rockets run the risk of bringing him back and hoping he can stay healthy or will they have to say farewell?
Should the Rockets bring Luc Mbah a Moute back?
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