Timofey Mozgov broke into the NBA in 2010, when the New York Knicks signed him to a free agent contract, seemingly out of nowhere. The Russian big man would surprisingly go on to start in 14 of the 34 games he spent in Knicks orange and blue, before becoming one of the last pieces in the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony deal with the Denver Nuggets. He’s proven himself in the league as a capable role player, but not someone who could consistently play huge minutes.
Timo is a decent, yet unremarkable offensive player. Last season, he averaged 10.6 points per 36 minutes. He’s at his best when he’s rolling hard to the basket after setting a solid screen. He can finish strong at the rim (he finished 58.3% of his chances within 8 feet last year), but he has extremely limited range and is a poor midrange jump shooter. His effectiveness in the pick-and-roll is also limited by his poor hands, as he has great difficulty catching and controlling the ball in tight spaces. Despite his stone hands, he’s a very good offensive rebounder. He racked up a very impressive 4.9 offensive boards per 36 minutes (his career average is a still-nice 3.4), and he makes the most of his second chances. Unfortunately, his lack of shooting hurt the Nuggets’ already poor offensive spacing last year; they were 11.3 points per 100 possessions worse on that end with him on the floor.
Defensively, he’s a bit slow-footed, but, within the right scheme, he can excel as a shot-blocker. He’s swatted 1.9 shots per 36 minutes in his NBA career thus far, and his length can help the Nuggets protect the rim. They’ll likely need him to play a few more minutes a game with the departure of Kosta Koufos, last year’s starting center, combined with the inconsistency of JaVale McGee.
Mozgov likely won’t get a ton of minutes this season, but if he’s able to extend his shooting range and work on his defensive positioning, his size and length could be an asset to the Nuggets this season.
Chris Harrison is a New York Knicks and NBA writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @chris_harrison1.