Michael Peter Muscala is an American professional basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association. He is an experienced power forward/center who lacks quickness, explosiveness and athleticism but is a very smooth shooter. Muscala also brings veteran leadership to the Thunder. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of acquiring Muscala. Read on to learn more about this versatile player.
Muscala is a veteran power forward/center
The Thunder are in desperate need of a veteran power forward/center in the offseason, and Muscala is the perfect choice. The veteran forward/center is capable of playing small-ball center and power forward while shooting from long range. Muscala has become an important part of the Oklahoma City culture, and he could help a contender this season. During the offseason, Muscala remained in OKC and looked forward to his trip to Las Vegas for NBA Summer League. He also got choked up during the season’s end, which may have been a sign of his appreciation for the Thunder.
An eight-year veteran, Muscala has spent the last three seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last season, he averaged 8.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 13.8 minutes. He’s a good rebounder and has excellent floor-spacer skills. His versatility is valuable, as he thrives in pick-and-pop schemes. The Thunder have also been able to re-sign veteran Luguentz Dort, which helps the Thunder keep a healthy balance between young and veteran assets.
The Thunder are also willing to trade a veteran piece for a player like Muscala. He’s 30 years old, and set to make $3.5 million this season, with a club option to earn the same amount next season. Another team interested in Muscala could be the Milwaukee Bucks. The Thunder could be able to use the veteran pieces in return for a future second-round pick, or they could simply buy him out and keep him.
The Thunder also signed veteran center Lu Dort to a five-year, $87.5 million deal. The contract, which covers two years, is essentially identical to Muscala’s contract for 2021. The two-year deal has matching $3.5MM cap hits in each season, and the first year is guaranteed. The second year is non-guaranteed, and the Thunder would need to re-sign Muscala to retain him.
He is a smooth shooter
In the NBA, Mike Muscala is a unique player. He is a true stretch-five. Big men are generally known for taking three-point shots, but few stretch the floor. Others’ shooting ability opens up lane and causes frantic closeouts. Muscala possesses both of these traits. The NBA needs more stretch-fives like him. The Lakers would be wise to sign him to their roster and take advantage of his versatility.
While Muscala is not particularly quick, he hustles up the floor and can find a hole in the defense. He also has average lateral movement and foot speed, so he will struggle to guard a legitimate post scorer at the next level. He is not a high-volume shooter, but he has a great feel for where the defense is weak and can step in to shoot a high percentage shot.
Another positive trait of Muscala is his savvy. He displays good vision for a center and averaged 3.1 assists per 40 minutes. He can handle double teams well and face up to survey the court. He also has excellent finishing ability above the rim, but his shooting range is not as impressive as some others. Muscala’s most significant asset is his pick-and-pop big game. His average catch-and-shoot jumper is 50 percent and his range is up to 20 feet. He has average post strength, but he needs to improve his shot selection and speed to become a long-range threat.
A veteran big for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Muscala was re-signed in free agency this summer and has become a critical part of the team. He has also emerged as Oklahoma City’s leading scorer in three-point shooting this season, making 43.6% of his attempts. His steady play has made him a valuable asset for the Thunder, but his role as a veteran leader is also a major plus.
Although Muscala lacks NBA-caliber size, his footwork has improved every year of college. He has a good range of moves and can post move over either shoulder. He can also use his body to post up and keep defenders on their heels. He calls for the ball well and gets his hands out to catch a pass. He is patient with the ball and rarely forces moves into double teams.
He lacks explosiveness, quickness and athleticism
The big question surrounding Mike Muscala is whether he has what it takes to be a successful NBA player. While he is a solid player with solid size and athleticism, his lack of explosiveness, quickness, and athleticism make him a question mark. However, he has shown some good post game skills, and his 14.8 rebounds per 40 minutes were very productive. While he lacks explosiveness, Muscala is nimble enough to play in the post, and his 80% career FT rate is very impressive.
While his lack of athleticism and explosiveness will likely keep him from being a franchise center, Muscala is a good help defender. He uses his length well and has excellent technique, especially when defending pick and rolls. But his lack of lower body strength will also cause him problems against legitimate post scorers at the next level. Muscala’s defensive rebounding percentage is 15.8 percent, which is far below the 20 percent that should be expected from a center.
While he has a size advantage, Muscala’s lack of athleticism and quickness will limit his ability to get to the rim. His post-position is not advanced, but he does have a good drop step and an up-and-under move. He also has an excellent feel for when to help and has moves to counter him. In addition to his post game, Muscala can get to the free throw line. He averaged 9.4 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted.
The key to maximizing Muscala’s offensive potential is his versatility. He can score in traffic with good movement, but his lack of explosiveness and quickness will limit his effectiveness on the offensive and defensive boards. If he can be effective in both ways, his potential could be enormous. And while he lacks explosiveness, he is a solid player who has the ability to play in the NBA.
He can provide veteran leadership for the Thunder
In free agency, Rick Presti pursued Mike Muscala, visiting him in Minnesota. The Thunder eventually traded away Paul George and Russell Westbrook to acquire the veteran. Muscala signed with the Thunder and immediately made his presence felt. He had developed a great relationship with the Hawks’ Dennis Schroder, and stumbled across a photo of himself and Schroder at the Hawks’ introductory press conference. Muscala noticed that Schroder’s hair was missing the golden patch that would typically surround his head.
The Thunder’s roster is young compared to the Longhorns’, with only three veterans. However, those three veterans are in their mid-20s. Veteran leadership is important, and the Thunder have several examples to look to. Besides Muscala, the Thunder have Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Lou Williams as examples of successful veteran leadership. They’ve also signed Derrick Favors and Kenrich Williams to long-term contracts, and the team will likely have plenty of veteran leadership in the future.
In terms of production, Muscala has played well during the first half of the season. He averaged 9.7 points per game and sunk a career-high six 3-pointers in one game. However, his play has dipped in the second half of the season as the Thunder gave playing time to young forwards. He played in only one game following the All-Star break. That could change if he remains healthy.
Regardless of the criticism he received, Muscala’s return to the Thunder will likely improve the organization’s overall outlook. In the long run, Muscala’s presence will be crucial. Not only does Muscala bring veteran leadership to the Thunder, but he also brings solid scoring ability to the lineup. Despite his age, Muscala has proven to be an excellent mentor for Chet Holmgren, the Thunder’s young players should continue to be developed as leaders.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed Mike Muscala to a two-year, $7 million deal. Muscala played a key role for the Thunder last season, averaging 9.7 points per game while shooting 37 percent. His veteran leadership will help the Thunder in a difficult time. And he will provide veteran leadership to a young squad that lacks it. And he will have a great impact on the team’s playoff run.