The Denver Nuggets publicly stated that they intended to re-sign free-agent Timofey Mozgov during the 2013 offseason. They followed through on their word, finalizing a deal on July 26. The signing process took far too long, and the Nuggets will regret their three-year, $14-million agreement with the center.
Last season, Mozgov saw minimal time behind starter Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee. The Russia native played 8.9 minutes per game, averaging 2.6 points and rebounds per game. After the Nuggets traded Koufos to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the rights to the 55th overall draft pick, Joffery Lauvergne and Darrell Arthur on draft night, it appeared that Mozgov would finally get a chance to prove himself in 2013-14.
Mozgov’s hopes were dashed when the Nuggets added free-agent J.J. Hickson on July 11. The Nuggets now have a frontcourt featuring McGee, Hickson, Arthur, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Randolph . Of the players, McGee, Hickson and Arthur can all play center.
The Nuggets rotation in 2013-14 will likely feature McGee and Faried as starters, and use Hickson and Arthur off the bench at the power forward and center positions.
While playing for the Portland Trailblazers last season, Hickson saw a good chunk of minutes at center. Hickson, 6-foot-9, is a bit undersized to play the position, however, his athletic ability allowed him to grab 10.4 rebounds per game, the seventh-best average in 2012-13. He has tremendous energy, which will provide the team a huge boost off the bench.
Arthur, 25 years old, averaged six points per game on 45.1 percent shooting, while snagging three rebounds per game for the Grizzles in 59 games in 2012-13. While Arthur’s statistics aren’t staggering — or that much better than Mozgov’s — he does bring another skillset that the Nuggets needed.
The biggest asset that Arthur brings to the team is his defensive presence. Last year, Arthur played an effective role behind starting All-Star Zach Randolph in Memphis. Former coach Lionel Hollins used Arthur in short bursts en route to the Grizzles finishing as the No. 1 defensive team in the NBA. The Grizzles gave up a league-low 89.3 points per game in 2012-13.
Where does Mozgov fit in on this roster? Mozgov is a defensive liability and doesn’t put up a lot of points. However, the Nuggets did not have a hard time scoring — last season they lead the NBA with 106.1 points per game.
The fourth-year player will likely see time as the third-string center, again. The Nuggets paid far too much for Mozgov and will regret re-signing him.