Is Timofey Mozgov The Long-Term Center For Cavs?
In the turnaround of the Cavs season, David Griffin’s first big move of the regular season was bringing in former Denver Nugget and New York Knick, Timofey Mozgov.
When the trade was made, Griffin was criticized. Was Mozgov really worth two first round draft picks? When you think about how Cleveland acquired these picks in the first place, this could actually turn out to be a fantastic trade for the Cavs. Griffin traded heavily protected OKC and Memphis Grizzlies picks.
The Grizzlies pick was acquired in January of 2013, when the Cavs sent Jon Leuer to Memphis, receiving Mo Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and the first rounder. The OKC pick was acquired in the Dion Waiters trade. Here’s what you get when you break it all down:
Cleveland gave up: Dion Waiters, Jon Leuer, Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk, 2019 second rounder
Cleveland received: Mozgov, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, 2015 second rounder (Denver)
Can you say steal?
Don’t forget, Mozgov is just 28 years old, with 11 years of professional basketball experience. He’s played in the first and second division of Russian basketball, with his third NBA club now, and represented his country at the Olympics and FIBA World Championships. In both the Olympics and FIBA comp, Timo won bronze medals respectively, both under his current head coach David Blatt.
Since the Cavs traded for Mozgov, he has changed the look of the team insurmountably. Before getting ‘The Mozerati’ in Wine and Gold, the Cavaliers surrendered 105.4 points per 100 possessions, the eighth-worst number in the league. After Mozgov, Cleveland is giving up just 101 points per 100 possessions. Opponents are also shooting just 48 percent when going up against Mozgov at the rim.
“It’s real simple,” Mozgov says. “As the big guy, you’re supposed to protect the rim.”
With all of this production so far out of the 7’1 Russian, imagine what he could do with a full training camp with this team. Mozgov came across in January, meaning he had a whole new defensive and offensive playbook to learn. Although he was familiar with Blatt, he also had to deal with learning new teammates tendencies. Not many 7’1 guys in the NBA can run the floor and both, A) Block Shots:
And, B) Outrun Players For Fast Break Dunks:
Before trading for Mozgov, the Cavs were 19-17. Since the trade, the Cavs have gone 34-12, including a stretch of 16 wins in 18 games. Mozgov not only changed Cleveland’s subpar defense, but has done his part on the offensive end. In four-and-a-half seasons with the Nuggets, Mozgov averaged 6.8 PPG with 5.2 RPG, while playing 17.7 MPG. This season with Cleveland, Timo saw improvements all over the board. As a ‘wine-and-golder’, Mozgov has averages of 10.6 PPG and 6.9 RPG while playing 25.0 MPG.
Timofey Mozgov signed a two year, $9 million contract with the Nuggets in the summer of 2014, meaning the Cavs will still have him on the roster for next season’s championship quest. A humble kid from St. Petersburg, Russia, with only seven games of NBA playoff basketball experience prior to this year, Mozgov should be pretty simple to re-sign. Other than two bronze medals in his cabinet, Mozgov has no silverware to speak of, Cleveland may be his best chance at winning those coveted trophies.
With a full pre-season and training camo with his Cavalier teammates and coaching staff, Mozgov will only get better. Is Mozgov the long term answer for the Cavs in the middle? Two words every Cavs fan is thinking right now.