LAL - D.J. Mbenga

ESPNDB Research | Created: Friday, May 29, 2009 | Updated: June 19, 2:19 PM ET
Didier Ilunga-Mbenga
Birth DateDecember 30, 1980 (age 34)
Height0'8" (.2 m)
Experience7 years
NBA Championships1
Didier Ilunga-Mbenga is a center for the Los Angeles Lakers, who signed him as a free agent during the 2007-08 season. Mbenga has played for three teams during his five-season NBA career. He is listed at 7-feet tall and 255 pounds. He goes by "D.J." (which is what his first name sounds like when pronounced) and his last name is pronounced BEN-ga (the M is silent).
European Career
Mbenga began his basketball career in Belgium, where he was a refugee after having fled his birth country of The Congo. Mbenga played for the Antwerp Diamond Giants as a junior player in '99-00 and '00-01, before joining Spirou Gilly of Belgium's Second Division in '01-02. In 2002-03, Mbenga split his time between Basket Groot Leuven of the Belgium First Division and Varese of the Italian Serie A. He averaged 2.4 PPG with Varese in 10 games of Serie A play. Mbenga increased his average to 2.6 PPG in 22 Serie A games in 2003-04, after which he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Mavericks.
NBA Career
D.J. Mbenga signed a 2-yr/$3.4M contract with the Dallas Mavericks on July 14, 2004, and played 58 games for Dallas over the next two seasons. During the 2006 playoffs, Mbenga was suspended for six games for going into the stands, after he saw the wife of coach Avery Johnson being harassed by fans. Mbenga returned to play two games in the 2006 NBA Finals, and earned a three-year non-guaranteed contract in the summer of 2006. Mbenga played just 21 games in 2006-07 before suffering a torn ACL against the Grizzlies. He was waived by the Mavericks just before the start of the 2007-08 season. The Warriors signed him two weeks later, but he played only 16 games for Golden State before being waived again. He signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Lakers, and eventually earned a contract for the remainder of the 2007-08 season, playing 28 regular-season and seven postseason games with Los Angeles. He did not see any game action during the 2008 NBA Finals against the Celtics. The Lakers re-signed Mbenga on Sept. 24, 2008. He played 23 games in the regular season, averaging a career-high 2.7 PPG. He averaged 1.0 blocks per game, and his 6.4 blocks per 48 minutes led the NBA. He played sparingly in the NBA Finals, as the Lakers defeated the Magic to win the NBA Championship.
Research Notes
NEXT LEVEL: Howard's Missed Opportunity
With 3:44 left in the 1st quarter Pau Gasol picked up his 2nd foul. At this point Gasol and Bynum both had 2 fouls, and Orlando was up 16-13. For the final 7 possessions of the quarter Howard was guarded by DJ Mbenga (6 poss) and Lamar Odom (1 poss), and he managed to score only 1 point. He touched the ball 1 time in the stretch and scored zero points in the 6 possessions he was guarded by Mbenga. The Magic ended the quarter up 4 points, but did not take advantage of a huge opportunity to expand their lead. Howard was rarely double-teamed, yet still did not make a big scoring impact.
Defending Dwight Howard
Magic Half-Court Offensive Possessions
Primary Defender Possessions Pct. Howard's Numbers
Pau Gasol 54 58.1 10 pts (4-9 FG, 2-8 FT)
Andrew Bynum 28 30.1 5 pts (1-3 FG, 3-4 FT)
D.J. Mbenga 6 6.5 0 pts (0-0 FG, 0-0 FT)
Lamar Odom 3 3.2 1 pts (0-0 FG, 1-2 FT)
Kobe Bryant 1 1.1 0 pts (0-0 FG, 0-0FT)
Derek Fisher 1 1.1 0 pts (0-0 FG, 0-0FT)
>Double-teamed on 2 of 93 possessions (2.2%)
Dwight Howard Offensive Touches
Game 4 vs Lakers
Qtr Touches Touches In Paint Pts
1st 8 8 2
2nd 7 7 4
3rd 7 6 2
4th 5 5 7
OT 4 3 1
Total 31 29 16
NEXT LEVEL: Defending Dwight Howard
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were the primary defenders on Howard in Game 3. Howard ended up with 21 points, his highest scoring output of the Finals.
Defending Dwight Howard
Magic Half-Court Offensive Possessions
Primary Defender Possessions Pct. Howard's Numbers
Andrew Bynum 41 51.3 11 pts (4-4 FG, 3-6 FT)
Pau Gasol 37 46.3 5 pts (1-2 FG, 3-4 FT)
Lamar Odom 1 1.2 5 pts (0-0 FG, 5-6 FT)
D.J. Mbenga 1 1.2 0 pts (0-0 FG, 0-0 FT)
>Double-teamed on 9 of 80 possessions (11.3%)
NEXT LEVEL: Lakers Avoid Double-Team on Howard
We took a look at which Lakers defended Dwight Howard in Game 1, how much that player defended him, and how effective they were at guarding Howard. This looks at all Magic half-court possessions, not just the ones where Howard took a shot or drew a foul. This only looks at half-court possessions because it provides a clear look at how the Lakers plan to defend Howard. So, fastbreak possessions and last-second end-of-quarter possessions are not included.
Defending Dwight Howard
Magic Half-Court Offensive Possessions
Primary Defender Possessions Pct. Howard's Numbers
Andrew Bynum 41 56.2 7 pts (1-5 FG, 5-8 FT)
Pau Gasol 27 37.0 5 pts (0-1 FG, 5-8 FT)
Lamar Odom 4 5.5 0 pts (0-0 FG, 0-0 FT)
D.J. Mbenga 1 1.4 0 pts (0-0 FG, 0-0 FT)
>double-teamed on 5 of 73 possessions (6.8%)