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Clippers 2018-2019 Player Previews: The Return of the Prince

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Luc Mbah a Moute returns to LA, and “Clamp City” has a new Prince.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Seven Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Basic Information:

Age: 31

Years in NBA: 10

Position: Small forward/Power forward

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 230

Key Stats: Luc, who battled injuries, only played 61 games last year with the Rockets. During those games, he averaged 7.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 25.6 minutes per game. His shooting splits were: 48.1% / 36.4% /68.4%, which were all above his career averages. Notably, he averaged 1 made three on 2.8 attempts per game, which was way up from prior seasons.

Contract Status: One year, $4.3 mil contract signed this offseason.

Expectations:

I believe it is safe to say that Clips Nation was excited to hear that Luc was returning to the Red, White, and Blue after a year wearing the wrong shade of red and no blue at all. Luc, because of his defensive excellence and humble demeanor, built a loyal following during his two seasons with the Clippers. Therefore, although his exit to the Rockets in 2017 was overshadowed by Chris Paul’s decision to leave, he was probably the most notable free agent signing of this summer.

Luc will not be slotted as a starter on this roster, assuming a world with a healthy Danilo Gallinari. Instead, he’ll back up Gallinari and Tobias Harris, as well as compete for minutes with Montrezl Harrell as a stretch-four. Although I am excited to see Luc play with the second unit, I am most excited for the time he will potentially share with Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley. Much has been made of this “Clamp City” backcourt, but adding Luc to the lineup would make even the Warriors’ robust lineup seem manageable.

The second unit, which will be made up of some combination of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams, Wesley Johnson, Harrell, Boban Marjanović and Mbah a Moute, is actually pretty balanced. The guards will lead the scoring, along with Harrell, while Wes and Luc will anchor the defense. My hope is that Luc will be able to keep up the increased willingness to shoot we saw with the Rockets in order to provide a catch-and-shoot threat to the dribble-drive and pick-and-roll styles of SGA and Lou.

As an NBA fan in the year 2018, I of course turn to Twitter when I am itching for hints about how a player might be getting ready for the season. In respect to my hopes for Luc’s shooting ability, I found two encouraging nuggets, both courtesy of Jovan Buha of the Athletic:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Case closed? Not quite. But it’s nonetheless nice to see that Luc knows that his shooting ability will be one of the determining factors between the Clippers being predictable and one-dimensional, or a team with several threats who can overwhelm a defense.

I have a ton of confidence in Luc and expect that his defense will be elite and his three-point shooting will be at or over his 36% mark from last year. In a fantasy world, Luc plays so well that the Clippers feel even more able to explore trades for Gallinari as the offensive gap between them narrows. Perhaps being on a one-year deal will boost Luc’s already high ambition and work ethic. Even if he’s the same player and person he was on his last Clippers’ stint, he will be a very valuable addition indeed.