As the Clippers came into the final stretch of the pre-season with 14 guaranteed contracts, the decision for the 15th man on a non-guaranteed deal came down to two veteran forwards: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Chuck Hayes. The Clippers chose LRMaM and it's safe to say at this point that it was the right choice. Mbah a Moute has started the last 41 games for the Clippers, and while his offensive play is lackluster, he's brought an elite level of man defense against opponents of all positions.
Thomas Wood: B+. Has the Prince been a B+ player when measured against the NBA as a whole? No, of course not, but I'll grade on a curve here. Mbah a Moute has done what's been asked of him, and a lot more has been asked of him than anyone had imagined when the Clippers signed him on the eve of training camp. He's a steady defender, and he knows what he can't do, an underrated virtue in life. Exactly what he can't do is shoot, and that will become a problem eventually, but we can worry about that later.
Taylor Smith: B: Considering he was a little-thought-of minimum signing just ahead of training camp, the Clippers have to be pleased with what they've been able to get out of Luc. He's clearly overextended after having essentially been forced into the starting lineup, but he's a very useful wing defender. The will need someone to try and slow down players like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard come playoff time, and LMAM has shown, for the most part, that he's up to the challenge. His offensive limitations are severe, though, which makes him a huge liability on that end. It hasn't really hurt LAC a ton yet, but hopefully once the postseason rolls around he won't need to be playing so many minutes.
Jonathan Hu: B+. Hustles hard and works within his talents (perhaps too much). He knows he is not the best shooter and uses his defense and hustle to earn minutes. Loved that even when he was just a Bruin. On the season he is shooting 36.4% from 3 (12 of 33). I would not mind him being a little more daring/confident and shooting a shot or 2 more per game. He will certainly be open because defendants will not expect much offense from Luc. He is not athletic, so I do not expect him to play TOO many more minutes, but more of him at 3 and more Green at 4 would mean less PP (ideally).
Niels Pineda: B: I know, I know, I've been rather harsh on players, and for an elite defensive player on a minimum contract a B seems like it stands for blasphemous. But here is the problem: for as great and versatile as the Prince is on defense, he is nearly unusable on offense. In the best case scenario, he shuts down the other team's best offensive player, while also forcing the Clippers to play 4 on 5 on the other end. That is still something I would take 10/10 times, but the only problem is that against the best teams in the league, it's not going to come close to that scenario. With his slow shot release and reluctance to shoot, other teams consistently leave Luc wide open in the corner. While he has definitely tried to slash more often, they are very rarely converted on. All in all, I think Luc is a good player to have on the team, but come playoff time, when teams give him the Tony Allen treatment, then he is going to be a huge liability.
Lucas Hann: B-. Luc is the first Clipper in a long time who is so routinely good and engaged on the defensive end of the court that it's actually fun to watch him counter opponents on a possession-by-possession basis. That said, he doesn't shoot the ball (not doesn't shoot the ball well, he literally will not shoot), and while he might be able to get by offensively since he cuts to the right spot on the floor, he's actually regressed lately to the point where he quite literally is more likely to drop an easy pass in the lane than catch it. He's done more than you'd expect from a training camp pick-up and he's been an admirable stopgap for a half-season, but we're getting close to Blake Griffin returning, at which point Jeff Green should become the primary SF and LRMaM should become a situational defender getting spot minutes.