There’s something to be said for seeing a familiar face in a new situation. When the Philadelphia 76ers traded veteran forward Thaddeus Young to the Minnesota Timberwolves, receiving the rights to the Miami Heat’s 2015 first-round pick, Alexey Shved and Luc Richard Mbaha Moute, most saw the first-rounder and ignored the potential impact of the two role players.
It’s true, the first-rounder is the cornerstone of the deal. It’s an asset we know 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie values more than life itself — the promise of a future star. Who knows just how far into the future that asset will actually come to fruition? What we do know is that Mbah a Moute, the versatile forward from Cameroon, already has a friend and protege in Philadelphia: first-round pick Joel Embiid. Recovering from surgery on the navicular bone in his foot, Embiid is becoming more famous for his hilarious social media prowess than his on-court dominance. Even Hinkie chimed in on his posts (he’s a fan), but recognized the potential backlash his center’s penchant for jokes can cause. Via NJ.com:
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of February, or late March, in the middle of a road trip where some of that humor doesn’t go over so well,” Hinkie said. “Maybe he will touch the stove and get burned a time or two, but I think he will find his way and be fine. But it is the sort of thing we talk about.”
He’s a raw, young, impressionable rookie in a new city and Mbah a Moute will be counted on to guide him through the potentially muddy waters of the NBA life. Per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:
For Sixers, Mbah a Moute value comes with his close relationship with Joel Embiid. Rookie needs mentorship; Moute will be counted on for it. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 22, 2014
Their ties run deep. In 2011, Embiid attended Mbah a Moute’s clinic in Cameroon. He essentially discovered Embiid’s natural skills. Growing up playing soccer and tennis, Embiid never really focused on hoops, but his god-given talents were undeniable.
“Those were moves that guys who had been playing for years were making,” said Mbah a Moute to the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen back in January. Embiid returned to another camp in which Mbah a Moute helped run, this time in South Africa, before ultimately leaving for the United States in pursuit of basketball superstardom.
After thriving at Montverde Academy in Florida and eventually the University of Kansas, it was Mbah a Moute whom Embiid sought out for advice when it was time to make his decision to enter the draft. His countryman has become one of Embiid’s most trusted advisors over the years and now has the opportunity to work alongside him every day in Philadelphia. Embiid will be rehabilitating his injury over the coming months, but he won’t be alone. Mbah a Moute will be there to shepherd him through the ups and downs, just as he’s always done.