Monthly Archives: mai 2011

My Playoff Scouting Report

This article was featured on ESPN’s TrueHoop.

6-8 Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is seen as one of the NBA’s best defenders. Virtually every night of the Bucks’ season, Mbah a Moute was asked to defend the opposing team’s star, whether that was a lightning-fast point guard or a seven-footer with unlimited range. He has been watching the playoffs, and offers this report on stopping the conference finals’ biggest stars:


LeBron is a lot like a point guard playing around with the ball and making decisions (Getty Images).

When you go in against a scorer, you have to know they’re going to get points. But what you have to try to do is making them have a tough night, make them get uncomfortable so they don’t get in a rhythm. When I go into a game, I’m trying to take them out of that comfort zone. I don’t want them to ever feel like they can take over the game at any point.

Every player is different. What might bother a guy like LeBron might not bother Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant. It depends on the player and the situation they’re in.

Here are a few tricks to handling each of them:

LeBron James
Strengths: Athleticism, power, versatility, handle
Preferred moves: Dribble-drive, dribble and shoot.
Best defense: Crowd him. Face guard. Don’t allow him space to dribble. Force decisions.

A common misconception about LeBron is that he’s so physical, he must be a drive-first player. Guys tend to play off of him. Players want to avoid contact and not get in a physical battle with him.

But I think being physical is the best way to defend him. When you give LeBron space and let him play around with the ball, he’s such a good ball-handler that it gives him more options. Space also allows him to get a head of steam on his drive.

So what I try to do is play physical, get in his face, don’t let him mess around with the ball. LeBron is a lot like a point guard playing around with the ball and making decisions. If you get into his face, you make him do what you want instead of having him play you. A lot of guys still back off him a little bit because they don’t want to get in that physical battle. That’s a mistake. The best way to play him is to crowd him, get in his face, make sure he doesn’t get to the basket and contest his jump shots.

You can force him to go to his left hand so he takes a jump shot instead of going right and getting all the way to the basket. You can make him pass the ball or use a screen and have help there for you. The key is to take him out of that dribbling rhythm and give him less time to figure out your defense.

Dwyane Wade
Strengths: Quickness, penetration
Preferred moves: Drive to the basket
Best defense: Contest. Deny his spots. Take away the drive. Mix and match looks.

Dwyane’s ability to drive is incredible. He can get wherever he wants to go on the court. That’s what makes him special.

I try to make him take contested jump shots, because when he drives, he’s tough to guard. If he can get to the basket, it’s at least a foul on you or he’s going to get an explosive dunk, sometimes both.

What you want to do is give him a little space sometimes, but a lot of what I do with Wade is mix and match. If you play tight on him, he’ll figure it out so now you have to switch up and play off him a little bit. I try to give him a few different looks so he won’t ever get comfortable with the way I’m guarding him.

When you go into it, you have to have a game plan, but at some point in the game you have to change it up just to mess around with him. He’s a great player and he’s going to adapt.


The toughest thing about Dirk is that he’s a seven-footer who can shoot (Getty Images). 

Dirk Nowitzki
Strengths: Length, size, touch, stopping ability, confidence
Preferred move: 
Post-up fade-away jumper
Best defense: 
Play physical. Force the drive. Contest jump shots. Don’t let him get comfortable.

The toughest thing about Dirk is that he’s a seven-footer who can shoot. You rarely see that. Kevin Durant has it to some degree, but Dirk also has that post-up game and that fade-away that always seems to go in. So if you’re 6-8, or even 6-10, that’s a matchup problem.

But Dirk is a shooter, that’s what he does. That’s his game. So when you have a guy who shoots, you can contest his shots, you can body him up and you can take him out of his shots making it tough for him to get in a rhythm. I try to be physical with him at all times because most of these guys you come to find out that they don’t like contact. So you get in his face and if he can’t get his shot off the way he wants to, he’s going to be uncomfortable.

You want a player like Dirk to drive all night. You want to give him the drive and make sure the help comes or try to take a charge. Sometimes when he drives, he’s going to stop on a dime and pull up for a jump shot. But if he’s also making some contested shots, which he usually does, you live with that.

He made a buzzer-beater on me where I knew he was going to drive, spin and shoot the ball. You can see in the replay, I’m right there, I’m looking for the spin. But when he spun, he still got me. I was so mad, but he’s a seven-footer, so I tried to contest the ball.

I just remember watching the ball saying, “Please don’t go in!” and next thing you know it goes and I was so mad at myself. But when I went back and looked at it again, I couldn’t have played that play better. I played him for the spin, he did it, I was right there to contest and he just made it. You can’t get discouraged by a play like that as a defender. You just have to go back and do it again.

But if he’s making open shots or he’s on the block and you don’t body him up, he’s feeling like everything is coming easy and it’s going to be a tough night.

Derrick Rose
Strengths: 
Body control, ability to finish, explosiveness, athleticism
Preferred moves: Driving layup, pump fake, reverse at the rim
Best defense: 
Use length. Avoid the drive at all costs. Contest the jumper. 

No one in the league has the ability to finish like Derrick Rose. His body control is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like that. He can be driving right, stop on a dime, jump, avoid the charge and finish on the other side of the rim in rhythm. There’s definitely no other player his size with that type of body control. He’s also gotten so much better with his jump shot that now he’s complicated to guard.

Before you could just make him shoot, but nowadays you have to respect his jump shot because he will pull up and shoot a 3 right in your face.

The thing that bothers him most is length. In Game 1, Miami did a good job of pulling LeBron onto him. If he gets a shot off, it’s going to be tough for him to see over the all that length to score a basket. If you can contest his jump shot with a guy who is 6-7 or better, it gets tough for him to get his shot off.

Letting him go to the basket is a mistake. He’s going to score no matter who is on him. But if you make him take a jump shot, over a bigger player, you have a higher chance of him missing those shots.

Me personally, I’ll play off of Rose because I know I’m long enough to contest his jump shot so I’ll give him a lot of space. He’s so quick that you can’t be tight on him, he’s going to get past you. You have to give him space and make sure you contest his jump shot. What makes him such a problem is that most of the guys that defend him aren’t big enough to contest. He can see over them and he has a better chance of making that shot.

 


Kevin has a really nice jump shot and he can get to the basket (Getty Images).

Kevin Durant
Strengths: Size, makes shots from anywhere on the floor.
Preferred moves: Mid-range jump shots, off-balance floaters
Best defense: 
Deny the ball. Keep him out of his spots. Play physical. Get in his face. Force him into the post.

You have to be very physical with Kevin. You saw a little bit with the Memphis guys, Shane Battier and Tony Allen. Whenever they tried to deny him the ball and get physical with him, it kind of took him out of the game. When you take him out of the game it usually leads to them forcing shots and trying to force feed him. When they do that, it’s a pretty good advantage for your team.

But Kevin is dangerous everywhere on the floor. The weakness of his game is that he doesn’t post up. He has a really nice jump shot and he can get to the basket. But the main thing is to have him try to take contested jump shots and be physical with him.

He wants to get to certain spots on the floor. But if you body him up, you can wear him down. At the end of the game, it shows, because he’s a guy that’s going to live by the jump shot. As a jump shooter when you really don’t feel your body and you’ve been beaten up all game, you don’t make as many jump shots.

Russell Westbrook
Strengths: 
Speed, athleticism
Preferred move: 
Drive to the basket.
Best defense: 
Prevent penetration. Turn him into a jump shooter. Use length. 

I’ve known Russell for a long time, starting in college at UCLA. His improvement has been one of the quickest of anyone around the league.

After practices in college, Russell and I went one-on-one pretty much every day. It was me, Russell and Darren Collison. That helped me because I had to guard smaller guys so I got quicker at everything I did. Even then he showed a lot of signs of what he’s doing now with his explosiveness and his athleticism to the basket.

Russell can drive as well as anyone in the league. He gets to the basket strong and is able to finish with contact. He has also developed his mid-range jumper and has a good pull-up game. So you have to make him take shots and try to contest them.

That’s where I use my length. I’ll play off him and I don’t let him get to the basket. If you let him get to the basket, he can really do damage. If you make sure he’s out on the perimeter taking contested jump shots, you can deal with the results.

I take a lot of pride in my defense. There’s no feeling like it when you can shut down a premier player on defense. You can score a lot of points, and that’s always great, but for me there’s no other feeling like making one of those guys frustrated because they can’t get into what they want to do. If they can’t score the points they usually score and they really look like they don’t know what’s going on, it’s a great feeling — especially if you get the win.

But at the same time, those guys are the best players in the world. They’re going to make shots. As long as they’re not getting anything easy, then I’m comfortable with that because then at the end of the game, they’re going to wear down. I want them to be worn down when it comes to crunch time and we’re fighting for the last couple of possessions.

Follow Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Twitter at @mbahamoute and on Facebook.

Season In Review: 2010-11

The 2010-2011 season was a lesson in the adversity of growth for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks. With every game, every steal, every shot and every defensive stop, Luc showed progress.

Despite a multitude of misfortune, the Bucks missed the playoffs by just two games. In a season that punished many of the Milwaukee players both physically and mentally, Luc was one of the team’s most reliable performers. He was able to play in 79 of the 82 games during the season and as No. 12’s playing time increased, so did his contributions to the team both offensively and defensively.

LOCK DOWN
It was already well known that Luc Richard ranks among the NBA’s elite on the defensive end. But if the NBA learned one thing about Luc this season, it’s that his defense doesn’t slump. On many occasions, No. 12 willingly took on the challenge of guarding the best players on the opposing team and continuously forced them into tough shots and mistakes.


It didn’t take Blake Griffin long to understand how strong Luc is on D. « He’s a great defender, » the rookie said.

DOUBLE DOWN
The Prince racked up eight double-doubles this season equaling his career total prior to this year. Hard work on improving his range developed Luc Richard’s offensive game. Defenders must now account for Luc’s ability to put the ball on the ground, in addition to shooting the 18-foot jumper.

LEVEL HEADED
In his three year career, Luc has been never been thrown out of a game and has only been charged with two technical fouls. No. 12’s maturity, and his ability to lead by example even when the going gets tough sets Luc a part.

LUC’S DAY
The Bucks played three games on Sunday this season. In those three games, Luc Richard averaged 15 points and 7.3 rebounds. It was just something about Sunday as Luc also increased his minutes to 36.7 minutes per game.

GAME OF THE YEAR
Luc’s best game came on a big stage with his Bucks taking on a Knicks team that had recently acquired a second superstar in Carmelo Anthony. Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop broke down Luc’s big night:

 

The Prince hassled Amare Stoudemire into a contested 14-foot brick of a jumpshot on New York’s first offensive possession of the game, foredooming Stoudemire’s wayward 11-28 shooting night. Mbah a Moute literally had a hand in stopping all three of New York’s relevant offensive players. He frustrated Stoudemire, blocked Billups, and breathed all over Anthony. Mbah a Moute also chipped in with an atypical offensive performance — notably making 13-13 at the free-throw line…Mbah a Moute actually has a quick first step off the dribble, and he is the Buck most prone to make a strong (if not always fruitful) drive to the basket in the halfcourt — now that Maggette no longer plays. In a team-high 45 minutes, Mbah a Moute racked up 19/8/1 along with three steals and three blocks. Brilliant. »

IN HIS OWN WORDS
With some big performances, like the one against the Knicks, throughout the season, Luc could see his hard work on his game paying off.

« I think my shot is so much better with all the work I’ve put in, » he said. « Now it’s just a matter of shooting the ball with a lot of confidence. I said before it’s not going to happen overnight but you can slowly see it happening already. »

Luc plans to continue to feed his offensive skill set as his career goes on.

« And I think that’s pretty good for me in terms of my career, » the Prince said regarding the development of his offensive game. « I’m going to continue to get better at it to become a better player. »

IN THEIR WORDS
Those around Luc and his peers in the NBA are constantly giving No. 12 credit for all that he does. No. 12’s game is appreciated around the league:

Bucks GM John Hammond:
« Luc Mbah a Moute is a guy that’s been an important piece to our organization. Not only is he important for what he does on the floor, but for what he does off the floor. He’s a great man that [coach] Scott [Skiles] can depend on every night to go out and defend. »

Bucks coach Scott Skiles:
« Luc can surprise you with his lateral movement and his ability to contest shots. »

NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin:
« He’s a great defender. »

Bucks center Andrew Bogut:
« He’s our best perimeter defender. Kobe’s going to score 20 just because of the amount of shots he gets up. We just need Luc to keep contesting every shot and make sure [Bryant] knows he’s there every shot. »

Bucks assistant coach Jim Boylan:
« We kind of broke down Luc’s shot and reconstructed it a little bit, » he said. « Now we’re back here working on it and staying consistent with our effort. We’re trying to be perfect every time we shoot the ball. Luc has been an unbelievable student. He’s been really fantastic, absorbing it and trying to bring that stuff to his game. »

AS SEEN BY
Those that follow the Bucks through their grind and write about the NBA were impressed by his defense, his offensive growth and his ability to step up when his team needed someone to carry the load.

John Hollinger, ESPN:
« He can guard any spot one through four. Mbah a Moute remains the league’s most underrated defender, not to mention its most versatile. Against Dallas last season, he guarded Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry in the same game; neither player did jack against him. »

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball, on Luc’s offensive game:
« Mbah a Moute has come a long ways since his rookie season offensively.  He attacks the rim very hard and uses his athleticism and touch around the hoop to finish as well as anyone on the Bucks.  He is always competing and finds himself in the right places more often than not when the Bucks have the ball…

His defense no longer needs much praise, it’s a given every night he’ll be a headache for the opposition, but his offense has really come along nice.  From 15-feet in, Mbah a Moute is as reliable as anyone on the Bucks. »

Dan Sinclair, Brew Hoop
« Luc is a serious hustle guy who rebounds with his body and gets good position on the offensive boards…he’s extremely active in the flow of the offense and spots seams in the defense really well, always seeming to cut toward the basket at the perfect time. I really hope Milwaukee keeps him. »

Charles Gardner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The third-year forward continued to be one of the league’s premier defenders, taking his usual turn on the top scorers while also going against taller power forwards nightly. Due to injuries, he started 52 games, primarily at power forward. He has improved his midrange jump shot, although opponents still play him for the drive and lay off his jumper. He has a quick first step and can get around bigger post players to score at the rim

Alex Boeder, Brew Hoop, on Luc’s hot run in late March and early April
« The Prince’s defense never slumps. And now he’s scored in double-digits in nine out of his last ten games — reaching that distinction for the first time in his pro career. »

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball on Luc’s hot March
« Mbah a Moute has run off six consecutive double digit scoring games, the longest such streak of his career.  Given that the Bucks virtually never run a play for him, this has been a pretty spectacular run for the Bucks power forward.  It should come as no surprise that Mbah a Moute has averaged 2.5 offensive rebounds per game over this stretch, and capitalized on the majority of those opportunities with scores. »

Zach Harper,ESPN:
« LRMAM isn’t the type of guy to get his proper due defensively. However, Luc Richard has been one of the most versatile defenders while guarding just about every position on the floor and helping stop pick-and-roll plays with his quick feet and expansive wingspan. »

Jake McCormick, We’re Bucked:
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.

NUMEROLOGY
Luc’s 2010-2011 season can be summed up in a few crucial numbers:

1  Luc started one game at center this season.  In that only start, not only did he contribute–scoring ten points and picking up 15 rebounds–No. 12 also showed his versatility and his ability to easily guard four or five spots on the floor.

9.2  Points per game Luc scored after the All-Star break during his 2010-2011 campaign.  His improvement after the break is a testament to his work ethic.

14  Luc played his best basketball in the month of March as the Bucks played 14 games.  No. 12 averaged 10.3 points per game–his highest total of any month.

26.5  Number of minutes per game No. 12 played during the season.  It was the highest total of his three-year career.

40.2  The percentage of Luc’s rebounds (420) that came odd the offensive glass (169)

52 Games started by Luc this season. He’s now started at least 50 games in each of his three season in the NBA.

52.8  Luc’s field goal percentage against divisional opponents. His stellar shooting against his divisional foes was six percent higher than his total field goal shooting percentage.

103 Luc’s defensive rating in 2010-2011 tied for the best of his career.

6,073  That’s the number of minutes the Prince has played in his short career.  In three seasons, Luc is averaging 78 games played per season–evidence of both his dependability and ability to take care of his body during the grueling seasons.