My how the giant has fallen.
Timofey Mozgov started the season as the Denver Nuggets’ starting center and also a fan favorite.
Fifty-seven games and four months later and Mozgov is now nothing more than an imposing figure on the Nuggets bench and one of the player that has some Nuggets fans screaming for his head.
What happened to the player that went for 23 points and 14 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons last year? What happened to the big men that started 35 games? And most importantly, what happened to his confidence?
There aren’t many big men that are as nibble as Mozgov or even have his size. At 7-foot-1, Mozgov can beat most big men up and down the floor and he has range out to 15 feet and can hit a jumper consistently.
Mozgov was solid for the Nuggets to start the season, playing his best ball against the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
- LAKERS: 8 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks
- HEAT: 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks (including the Nuggets’ first six points)
- KNICKS: 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks
With Mozgov at center, the Nuggets started the season 15-7. However, Mozgov rolled his ankle against the Lakers and missed the next seven games (Denver was only 2-5 with the big man out). His return didn’t last too long, as he injured the same ankle seven games later and had to sit out once again due to the the injury. Mozgov returned five games later, but he wasn’t the same and his confidence was obviously shaken.
It wasn’t just the injury, but also the trade to acquire JaVale McGee that has shaken Mozgov’s confidence. Mozgov struggled with turnovers and he started to miss easy baskets and finally McGee overtook his spot in the starting lineup and Mozgov was banished to the bench. Mozgov received a DNP-CD in the next five games before finally getting scrub minutes in Denver’s win over the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
Is Mozgov a piece to the puzzle? Or is he just trade bait? Even with his struggles, he is only 26 years old and has one year left on his contract at nearly $2.78 million. He is in only his second year in the NBA and still can improve. One improvement that would help him and the Nuggets is if he becomes more aggressive in the paint and develops a better low-post game.