Luckily for the Sacramento Kings, Mbah a Moute makes the most of his situation (not that there’s anything wrong with Northern California). Following a trade in the summer, the Cameroonian prince is starting at small forward and serving as a defensive anchor.
No so long ago, Mbah a Moute made his NBA home with the Milwaukee Bucks when the club drafted him 37th overall out of UCLA in 2008. He teamed with head coach Scott Skiles who molded the rangy 6-foot-8, 230-pounder into a stopper, as the wing took the toughest offensive assignment regardless of position. Mbah a Moute had his best defensive year in 2010-11, when he held small forwards and power forwards to 43.9 and 46.1 percent shooting respectively inside the arc according the 82games.com. The 27-year-old gives Skiles credit for his ascent, and he’s excited to work under Malone.
“Malone is very defense-oriented like those guys (Skiles and Jim Boylan, an interim head coach in 2012-13),” explained Mbah a Moute at Friday’s shootaround. “If you want to be real technical and go into the schemes, there’s a lot of different things that they do. The scheme on how to guard the pick-and-roll is totally different. The rotations are different. (But) both coaches try to hang their heads on defense, which is good.”
Mbah a Moute did note a major philosophical difference between the two.
“Mike is definitely more laid back than Skiles.”
“Way laid back. No doubt.”
The Kings will fly south to play a double-header against the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers on November 23 and 24. Both teams excel at filling the scoreboard with the help of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Nick Young and others, but apparently Mbah a Moute doesn’t react to names.
“I prepare the same way for every player, but the scouting report is what’s changing. I try to go out there and treat every player like (they’re) the best on the team…what Kobe does, what LeBron does, what Carmelo does, that’s what changes but preparation is the same.”
A knack on Mbah a Moute throughout his career has been that he’s one-dimensional. The forward averaged a career-high 7.7 points-per-game in 2011-12, and plays are rarely called for him. However, Mbah a Moute sees a chance to showcase his skills in Sacramento.
“I can post up sometimes when I’m matched against smalls, or sometimes bigger guys (because) I’m quicker than most fours… I can hit open shots, drive, (make) plays for each other. Being a smart player offensively, knowing when to take a shot and when to pass…making the right play. That’s something I bring to this team.”
As Mbah a Moute establishes himself as a topflight defender, opportunities on offense will come. For now, the lockdown artist should continue to get familiar with surroundings.
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