Houston Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute had an outstanding game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, even if you didn’t notice.
One quick glance at his stat line (13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist) does not suggest he had a stellar performance. However, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by 57 points when he was on the court. It was the best plus-minus for an NBA player since the 2000-01 season.
But this has been a season-long trend for the nine-year NBA veteran. Even though he was expected to shine with three-point shots, his efficiency has not been from downtown. Mbah a Moute has the best overall accuracy (81.6 percent) in the league among players who have attempted as many two-point field goals.
Meanwhile, he has often made the players around him better while with Houston. In three-man lineups that have played at least 48 minutes together on the court for the Rockets, Mbah a Moute has been featured in 10 different permutations that have outscored opponents by at least 15 points per 100 possessions.
When the Rockets have played Mbah a Moute with Eric Gordon and Nenê, for example, Houston has outscored opponents by a massive 28.8 points per possession.
Nenê averages 20.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes with Mbah a Moute on the court, but just 16.7 points (-4.1) and 5.3 rebounds (-3.4) without him. James Harden averages 35.2 points per 36 minutes with Mbah a Moute, but 28.8 points (-6.4) without the 31-year-old forward.
On the other side of the ball, Mbah a Moute is a valuable option (via Def Pen Sports):
“His lateral quickness, length, and desire allow him to stick with almost anyone. He reaches his long arms around opposing players and knows some players’ moves with near-telepathic accuracy. He seems to constantly be around the ball and possesses the ability to wreck any offensive possession.”
This year, his steal percentage is Top 10 among all forwards who have played as many minutes.
He ranks Top 20 overall in the league based on ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus. Players are shooting 3.4 percent worse against him, which also ranks Top 20 among all NBA forwards who have guarded as many shots as he has so far this season.
According to NBA Math’s FATS Calculator, the Rockets have played like a team with a 72.1 winning percentage when he is on the court.
However, they look like a team with a 57.1 winning percentage when he is on the bench. That’s a difference of 12.4 wins over the course of an entire basketball season.
While some may have finally noticed his importance to his roster after the performance against Denver, it’s been an ongoing trend for the versatile player.