By now it’s an old story that the NBA is lacking size – true centers with low post power and staggering height. It’s uncommon to find a team with a 7-foot starting center, and it’s much less likely to find a center over 7 feet.
At 7’1”, Timofey Mozgov was an invaluable addition to the Cleveland Cavs offense and defense in 2015.
This year, when he’s been on the court, he’s been an effective player. He can tower over his opponents and is extremely underrated and should be playing more.
The Cavs made the mistake of not playing him on their otherwise small team. Mozgov may not be a superstar post presence, but he can be a significant player in the paint and very difficult for other teams to counter.
Although the Cleveland smalls did a good job dominating for most of the season, ignoring the value of big players has impeded the team many times.
During Game 1 and Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Cavs were powerless in the paint due to their small size; they couldn’t create any offense down low, and they couldn’t keep the Warriors out of the paint. Heavily relying on perimeter shooting has been proven to be ruinous when scorers are off. Playing Timofey Mozgov over players who are only good at accumulating raw points but have no defensive presence would have balanced the team more and made the Cavs less susceptible to the Warriors’ offense.
Mosgov is considerably effective as a rotational player, but his skills can’t help his team when he’s on the bench.
This season Mozgov played a measly 17.4 minutes per game. For the little time he’s been on the court, he does an impressive job with points and rebounds – averaging 6.3 and 4.4, respectively. He has a career-high of 29 rebounds and 23 points, both obtained in a single game against the Golden State Warriors on April 2014. When he’s given the opportunity, he can lead a team defensively and contribute substantially on offense. In addition, he averaged 0.8 blocks per game this season.
As Mozgov enters free agency this summer, several teams have to consider what they want in a center.
The Mavericks are in serious need of a big man as Zaza Pachulia and David Lee depart as free agents. Mozgov would be a great post player to go along with their already strong perimeter lineup with Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, and Chandler Parsons. But with Dwight Howard in the running, the Mavs have a difficult decision ahead of them.
Another team that may look into getting Mozgov is the Chicago Bulls. Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol will be under heavy pursuit by other teams as they become unrestricted free agents this year, leaving the Bulls in need of a strong post. Mozgov can drastically change the Bulls’ defensive strategy by getting rebounds and keeping opponents’ driving layups low. This would also help the Bulls make more offensive plays since they will gain possession of the ball more frequently.
The exact future of Mozgov may be a tossup right now as he sits on the bench in the middle of the Finals, but his skillset should definitely land him a starting lineup position.
The Cavs’ strategy didn’t align well with his abilities and he will probably find himself getting more playing time on a different team.
Mosgov would be a crucial member of whichever team he joins, whether his role is protecting the paint or racking up points. His tough offensive style and towering size make him an exceptional center pick in 2016 Free Agency.
photo via llananba