It seems like every year we do this 30Q series there's always a question about "Will this new player finally solve Sacramento's SF problem?". Unfortunately, the answer has always ended up being "No. Hell No. In fact, this one's worse than the one before."
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a little bit different than the previous contenders Sacramento has had however. He's spent the first five years of his careers in Milwaukee, starting for a team that wasn't great, but wasn't nearly as bad as Sacramento. In fact they went to the playoffs a couple times, with Mbah a Moute starting. Now, Mbah a Moute wasn't the sole reason those Bucks teams got to the playoffs, but he was a contributing factor thanks to his ability to defend multiple positions and know his role, something that has been far too rare in years past for Sacramento.
In the past when discussing what SF would be ideal for Sacramento, much of the discussion centered around what kind of player would be a good fit with Tyreke Evans, since Evans couldn't shoot. Evans is now gone, and Sacramento has multiple shooters in the backcourt, thus changing the circumstances and fit. Mbah a Moute is not a prolific shooter. In his first four seasons in the NBA, he shot just 32 three pointers, making 7 (21.9%). Last season was his highest in terms of volume, but even still it was just 13 for 37 (35.1%). Milwaukee tended to play Mbah a Moute as more of a four on offense, paired with a stretch four like Ersan Ilyasova.
Sacramento could potentially have a similar situation on their hands if they choose to start Patrick Patterson alongside Mbah a Moute. Patterson is not known as a great defender, but he does much better guarding fours than threes, while Mbah a Moute can guard either position but is probably better guarding wings. Patterson is a below average rebounder for a Power Forward, but Mbah a Moute is above average as a Small Forward, so that will help mitigate some of the decline in value.
Defensively, Mbah a Moute might be Sacramento's best defending SF since Ron Artest. There is some worry that he might be an injury risk, suffering a knee injury last year that kept him out of the start of the season, but he was able to come back and make an impact.
I also like how Mbah a Moute understands his role and knows his strengths and weaknesses. He is not on the court to try to make plays or score buckets, something too many previous SF candidates tried to do. Those are not the needs of a team that features high volume shooters like DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton already. Mbah a Moute has a career usage of just 14.0%, which would have ranked him only above Chuck Hayes and Cole Aldrich last year, two players who did not see much playing time.
Mbah a Moute is going to have every opportunity to make his case as Sacramento's SF of the future. He's still pretty young (27) and has just two more years on his contract. His current competition is John Salmons and Travis Outlaw. Barring injury, I don't see why Mbah a Moute can't be a very good SF for us going forward. He's never going to be a star, nor does he need to be. Many good teams feature a wing defending specialist in their starting lineups: Memphis (Tony Allen), Oklahoma City (Thabo Sefolosha), San Antonio (Bruce Bowen back in the day). The Kings are far from a good team, but Mbah a Moute can help get them on their way, particularly if he can help keep the defense become a unit. Chuck Hayes was supposed to be the guy that did that, but Hayes has not seen the amount of playing time necessary to do that. As a potential starter, Mbah a Moute will have the opportunity to be a leader by example.
I can't say for sure that Mbah a Moute is the solution for us, but for once we're not investing our hope in someone who might fulfill potential or re We're investing our hope in someone who has proven that he can be a quality player in this league at the Small Forward position. I'm excited to see what the Fresh Prince can bring to the table this year.