Well, the Denver Nuggets are struggling. After going 4 – 2 on an Eastern Conference road trip, the Nuggets have come home and struggled mightily. The team has lost four of its last five, the losses coming by an average of 11.8 points. The struggles during this span have come on both sides of the ball, averaging only 95.6 points on offense while giving up 103.2 on defense. Obviously, the Mile High Crew is playing poorly and, really, the only cure for that is finding their stride and playing like they know they can. Remember the 7-game win streak?
There is one quick fix, however, that coach Brian Shaw needs to seriously consider. Moving Timofey Mozgov into the starting lineup.
Since Javale McGee’s injury, J.J. Hickson has been the starting center and has done a serviceable job. Unlike a lot of my fellow Nuggets fans, I liked the signing, as Hickson is a versatile and athletic big that gives the team incredible frontcourt flexibility. But he proved last year with Portland and so far this year that he is not a starting center in this league. Not for lack of effort or ability, he simply does not have the size or defensive acumen to compete night in and night out with the bigger and better centers.
In steps Mozgov. He doesn’t have a pretty game, but he does get the job done with his rough and rugged style. At over 7 feet tall and 250 pounds, he certainly has the size down. This size also allows Mozzie to be a more effective defender and protector of the rim. He doesn’t venture out of the paint very often, but that’s exactly what the Nuggets need, a low-post presence on defense. And if you’re worried about a drop in production, don’t be. Per 36 minutes, Timo puts up 16 points and 11.6 rebounds, very similar to J.J.’s per 36 averages of 16.2 points and 12.5 rebounds. With the team’s first quarter struggles this season, the bench has sparked many of the victories this season. Inserting the most consistent player off the bench might cure those early game ills.
Make no mistake, though, I’m not saying that making Timofey Mozgov a starter transforms the Nuggets into a contender. I am saying that starting Mozzie could reverse the losing trend the Nuggets find themselves in. An improvement in interior defense and a splash of toughness might be all the starting lineup needs. More minutes for the big Russian might be what Brian Shaw needs to turn things around for his entire team. Do svidaniya.