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Houston Rockets: Who needs to step up with Luc Mbah a Moute out?

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets will have to step up as a group in wake of Luc Mbah a Moute‘s shoulder injury that will keep him out of the first round.

Unfortunately, Luc Mbah a Moute suffered a dislocated shoulder on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Mbah a Moute will miss at least the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Rockets haven’t given a time-table for his return

Mbah a Moute suffered the same injury back in December and he missed the next 15 games over the span of a month. If Mbah a Moute takes about four weeks to recover again, he could miss the first two rounds of the postseason.

Luc Mbah a Moute doesn’t make a lot of headlines and he isn’t a volume scorer, but he makes the Rockets better when he is on the floor.

When Mbah a Moute is on the bench, Houston’s defensive rating is a solid 105.4. But when he’s on the floor, their defensive rating improves to 101.2, which would rank as the best in the NBA.

When Mbah a Moute is paired with P.J. Tucker, Houston’s defensive rating improves to an incredible 98.3. In the 903 minutes that this duo has played together, they’ve out scored their opponents by an average of 17.5 points per 100 possessions.

Along with Mbah a Moute, Tucker is the most versatile defender that Houston has. Both players spend most of their time at power forward, but they’re also capable of switching on to any player on the court on any given possession.

With Mbah a Moute out, Joe Johnson might see an uptick in minutes and he’ll spend more time playing power forward. Johnson isn’t known for his defense, but he can be a solid team defender. Iso Joe isn’t in his prime anymore, but he can still have an occasional explosive game on offense.

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The Rockets have enough depth at forward to fill in for Mbah a Moute, but there’s no question that his elite defensive versatility will be missed. Hopefully, Mbah a Moute can get healthy enough to return before the conference finals. The Rockets will need him if the highly anticipated series against the Warriors comes to fruition.