One Rockets bench player got hurt in last night’s win over the Hornets. How will it impact the team?
Against the Hornets last night, veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute injured himself after dunking and slipping off the rim. He landed awkwardly on his shoulder and dislocated it.
Initially, it looked like Luc might be missing some serious time. Thankfully, though, that is not the case. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Mbah a Moute will miss around 2-3 weeks and there are no significant issues with his shoulder.
This loss will still affect the Rockets greatly, especially with them heading into a very tough part of the season. Let’s look at how Luc’s injury will hurt the team.
Key Matchups he is missing
There are several matchups that Mbah a Moute will miss with his shoulder injury. As the Rockets begin a difficult part of the schedule, his defensive production off the bench will be hard to match. There are four main games that the Rockets will especially miss Luc:
San Antonio Spurs
Tomorrow night, the Rockets will take on the Spurs on National TV. With Kawhi Leonard back (but not fully healthy), it would have been nice to have Luc Mbah a Moute to guard him at times. Hopefully, Leonard does not play full minutes so that Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker can guard him at all times.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been underperforming this year, but when their offense is working they are tough to beat. Mbah a Moute would have been able to guard any one of their Big Three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. This game still should be a fun one on Christmas Day.
A few days after Christmas on the 28th, the Rockets will visit Boston for a matchup against the dangerous first-place Celtics. Luc may not be missed as much in this game, but it still would have been great to have him guard Kyrie Irving or young players Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum.
Golden State Warriors, maybe
The Rockets will play the Golden State Warriors on January 4. This game is around the time that Luc Mbah a Moute is slated to come back from injury. If he isn’t playing then, he will be missed greatly against the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Who will replace him?
Luc Mbah a Moute’s defense and shooting will be tough to replace. The way he guards the perimeter against the best of opponents is hard to find. Ariza and Tucker will likely get an extension to their regular minutes-load. There is also a possibility that forward Troy Williams will get some minutes. He was pretty good last year when given the opportunity to play and he shows flashes of greatness at times. It all depends on if Coach D’Antoni trusts him or not.
MRI on right shoulder of Houston Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute revealed no significant issues, and there's optimism that he could return within two-to-three weeks, league source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 14, 2017
One thing is for sure, Luc Mbah a Moute will be missed. Thankfully, it isn’t a worse injury.