Late last week, we broke down the game of former Texas Tech forward Tariq Owens and analyzed what he could possibly bring to the G League during his rookie year as a member of the Northern Arizona Suns. While the vibe of that piece was pretty positive due to his tremendous defense and worked as a roll man, some of that success might’ve not happened if it wasn’t for the solid play of today’s topic; Matt Mooney.
That connection with the Texas Tech forward comes from how 6’3 prospect stood out as one of their main facilitators during his lone year with the team. As the aforementioned forward did a lot of damage within the pick-and-roll, Mooney was the man to make the precise passes that allowed Owens to get clean looks at the rim. This connection was one of the factors behind the Texas Tech guard averaging a career-high 3.3 assists per game with a 1.3 Ast/TO ratio, which placed him 10th in the Big 12.
As might be evident from how he was able to connect with Owens, a lot of Mooney’s assists came through residing on the perimeter and finding teammates that are either cutting to the paint or just standing there waiting for a pass. In either instance, the young guard does an excellent job of being able to instantly recognize when the teammate starts to burst to the paint or has an open look at the rim.
Even if that teammate isn’t open, he can still sometimes find ways to get the ball in the right place that allows them to score. An example of that is seen in the clip below where he throws up a pretty pass that lands directly in the right hand of Owens, who throws down the thunderous slam.
Although he can throw up pretty alley-oop passes, there are more ways for Mooney to distribute. One of those methods comes from working on the move, whether it’s through drive-and-kick or just working around the top of the key to capturing the defense’s attention so one of his teammates can get open.
Once he’s able to recognize someone getting open, the Texas Tech alum does an excellent job of being able to make an accurate pass to that cutter or open perimeter player. That trait is seen in the video below where Mooney draws the defense’s attention by driving to the paint before making a dangerous no-look pass to Owens, who finishes with a big one-handed flush.
While standing out as an excellent facilitator, a lot of Mooney’s success on that end of the court obviously came as a scoring threat. During his lone season with Texas Tech, the 6’3 guard averaged 11.3 points and 3.1 rebounds on 43% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc on 3.3 attempts per game. That production was mainly due to him being a well-rounded threat that was able to put up points through driving to the rim with his right hand, mid-range and perimeter shooting. Personally, it seems like he doesn’t have a preference as he used those three methods at a pretty equal rate in the five games that were watched before writing this piece.
Although he didn’t have a preference while with Texas Tech, he relied a lot on his perimeter jumper during his two-year run with South Dakota. That past dependence definitely makes sense that Mooney stands as a talented shooter that is capable of putting up successful attempts whether capturing the pass after working around screens, working off-the-dribble, or even launching up step-back jumpers. In either of those approaches, he displays a quick shooting stroke with a high release point that was able to be launched from well beyond the NCAA three-point line.
Unsurprisingly, that solid shooting stroke transfers over to when the Texas Tech alum is working inside the three-point line. Weirdly enough, a lot of Mooney’s mid-range shots come through him working into the paint and putting up shots from just outside the restricted area. Although that approach is unique and usually comes with a hand in his face, he was able to make it work as he shot 43% on short mid-range shots, according to The Stepien’s shot charts.
The final way that he was able to stand out on the offensive end was as an on-ball driver, where he used his right hand to glide to the rim. More times than not, Mooney’s process of going to the rim usually begins through utilizing off-ball screens to create separation from his perimeter defender and getting a clearer path at the rim. After getting that opening, the young guard shows some explosiveness with how he uses a quick first step to burst through that newly created hole and start the journey to the rim.
On that path, the Texas Tech alum can use some slick side-steps to maneuver past any defenders that may be between him and the rim. Even if there’s a front-court player standing between him and the basket, he’s occasionally shown an ability to use his strong 200-pound frame to be able to score in traffic. Those traits allowed him to hit a solid 57% on 90 total attempts from within the restricted area.
While he stood as a well-rounded offensive player during his time with Texas Tech, Mooney left the university being mostly looked at for his work on the other end of the floor. During his lone season with the team, he had 1.8 steals per game, which placed him 2nd in the Big 12. That high amount of steals largely comes from how tenacious he is on this end of the floor as the 6’3 guard seems to love to go into the passing lanes and intercept passes like an NFL cornerback.
Another way that he is able to stand out on the defensive end is just through him playing man-to-man defense. Despite not being the longest or most athletic guard in the world, the Texas Tech able to make up for it by using quick feet and great balance to stay in front of his man and prevent them from getting any easy perimeter looks.
Through the combination of a balanced offensive attack and strong defensive play, Mooney was able to get a few major accolades which include: All-Big 12 Second Team, Big 12 All-Newcomer Team, and Big 12 All-Defensive Team.
Although those accolades weren’t enough to allow him to get selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, he’ll be in good shape to start his pro career due to recently signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. With this deal, the guard could make up to $50,000, in addition to his standard G League contract if he spends up to 60 days with the Memphis Hustle, their minor league affiliate.
From the jump, Mooney should instantly stand as a vital fixture within their rotation due to his diverse skill-set. For one, he and Grizzlies two-way player Yuta Watanabe has tremendous upside to be one of the strongest defensive duos in the G League. While his potential as a facilitator remains in question due to how unknown the Hustle’s 2019-20 roster currently is, the presence of Watanabe and former UPFW standout John Konchar will give him some solid weapons to utilize as a facilitator.
So while he might not be the flashiest or electrifying player, Matt Mooney’s status as a reliable guard that can shine on both ends of the floor should allow him to be a fantastic member of the 2019-20 Memphis Hustle.