In a compressed season where durability and toughness are being severely tested, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute’s unique talents have helped to hold the Milwaukee Bucks together.
Luc’s energy, hustle and dedication on both ends of the court have aided Milwaukee (Getty Images).
The Bucks retained Luc on a four-year contract this offseason, matching an offer sheet from the Denver Nuggets. Luc has since rewarded the Bucks with the type of energetic play and defensive intensity they’ve come to expect from No. 12.
After overcoming some injury concerns early in the season, Luc has stepped up to help the Bucks remain in the playoff hunt despite the absence of center Andrew Bogut, who was lost for the season to injury. At the break, Milwaukee sits just 2.5 games out of the eighth seed in the East.
The Prince believes the break is coming at the right time for Milwaukee as they look to regroup and recharge after a grueling first half of the season.
« It’s going to help a lot, » he said. « It [was] getting to the point where the schedule is starting to catch up. »
BY THE NUMBERS
Luc has helped his team stay caught up to the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference thanks to another strong start. Here’s a look at the numbers that set No. 12 apart from his peers.
.7 Luc’s blocks per game, a career high so far this season
2 No. 12’s average fouls per game, doing the best job of his career defending without fouling.
3 members of the Heat « Big Three » that the Prince took on one-by-one in a victory over Miami on Feb. 1
14 starts this year for Luc out of 21 games played.
19 No. 12’s turnovers this season, second lowest among Bucks that have played at least 20 games.
38 Luc’s season high in minutes played in a victory over the Lakers on Jan. 28
79.5 The Prince’s career-high free throw percentage, a product of his hard work this offseason.
104 Luc’s defensive rating so for the season, right in line with his career average.
GAME OF THE YEAR
Luc’s game of the year came against the league’s best team, the Miami Heat.
Both teams entered the game hot, the Bucks winners of two in a row and the Heat having reeled off five straight victories. But Luc put the freeze on Miami on the first of February, helping the Bucks to rally from a 17-point deficit to win 105-97.
Luc showed a lot about his own commitment and will in particular, refusing to back down after watching the Heat shoot 83 percent and tally 40 points in the first quarter alone. For the rest of the game they shot just 36 percent and scored only 57 more points.
Each of Miami’s « Big Three » was kept in check by the Milwaukee defense with Luc manning each guy at different points during the game. But LeBron James was of particular note. After a 24-point first, James scored just two points in the second, eight in the third and only six in the fourth. It was in that fourth that Luc took on the challenge of guarding the Heat star. Playing all but 38 seconds of the crunch time quarter, the Prince limited King James to just six points on 2-of-5 from the field.
« LeBron went off in the first half and we needed to stay on him a little bit, try to calm him down, » Luc said.
Luc also mentioned that Miami’s stars often look to go 1-on-1 rather than running set plays. He said that strategy only benefits his smothering style of defense. Trying to attack Luc one on one in a half court setting on a consistent basis is a difficult task.
« I think it’s good for us when they try to go one-on-one. You can still get exposed that way. » he said. « But when you’re able to stop them, it gets the other guys around them frustrated and you’re able to slow down their momentum offensively. »
Luc helped the Bucks do just that and Milwaukee walked away with its biggest win of the season.
AS SEEN BY:
Bucks bloggers understand the value that Luc brings to the Bucks lineup every time he steps on the floor.
Ian Segovia Bucksetball.com :
LRMAM is an elite defender at three positions and he’s not that much of an offensive liability if he’s playing near the rim or cutting to the basket often.
Josh Hilgendorf Bucksketball.com:
It has to be Mbah a Moute. Lose him and you lose one of the premier defensive players in the league. We all know Scott Skiles is a defensive coach first, and his schemes rely on having a player with Mbah a Moute’s ability locking down the opposing team’s best player.
Jeremy Schmidt Bucksetball.com after the win over Miami
Starting on Bosh? Forcing Wade into step back threes after 24 seconds of dribbling? Blocking him on a drive into the paint? Spending the last part of the fourth quarter on LeBron after spending the majority of the game on Wade? All while tossing in 11 points and six rebounds? As if Mbah a Moute needed to do anything else to endear himself to Milwaukee fans as a defender and putbacks guy. This game was the prototype for all big defense little offense guys.
THEY SAID IT :
Members of his team and opponents alike praise the Prince for his defense, energy, and effort that make him one of the elite defenders in the NBA.
Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles:
« Sometimes if you say a guy is an energy player, a player could take offense to that, thinking you’re forgetting about their skills. But Luc is going to make his money in his career because he can be a high-energy player and not only guard his man as well as anybody in the league can, for the most part, but also get involved in the team defense and get on the board for us. »
Bucks center Andrew Bogut:
« I love playing with Luc. Most importantly, he’s on their best player every game. I read last night online he’s the best on ball defender, not just me saying it, but statistically someone did a stat and he’s the best on ball defender in the league. »
Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond
« We appreciate Luc and what he’s done for us as an organization and what he stands for. He’s a relentless worker and if you’re willing to put in the time I think you have an opportunity to improve. »
« Not a lot of guys can affect the game the way he can without scoring the ball. And then, we have no problem with him taking his open 15-footer and his drives to the basket. »
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Due to the condensed season and a hectic travel schedule, teams throughout the league have canceled practices. Luc believes that the lack of practice has hurt his team a bit.
« I prefer to have practices. Practice makes you better, » he said. « It takes a lot for a veteran to get ready for a game. For veterans to play game after game after game, it’s a little harder. Some veterans need treatment; they have some miles on their legs; it’s not as easy to get the body going. »
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Milwaukee in the second half. They begin the season on a back-to-back and then endure four more, as well as a back-to-back-to-back in March. The load lightens in April, with just three back-to-backs and nine of 14 games at home inside the Bradley Center.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Despite the craziness of the condensed season, Luc still loves his job and looks forward to the challenge of taking on the best players in the game on a nightly basis.
« It’s a tough job, going against those guys, But it’s a fun job, too. Those guys are the best and it’s always fun to play against the best. »