Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin was recently the catalyst in one of the biggest trades of the progressing NBA season. For two future first round picks, the Cavs got the center Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets. Critics call it an expensive transaction for an average rim protector who doesn’t average double-digit rebounds on a nightly basis. But there is a reason insiders have reported that the Cavaliers coveted Mozgov. He is no all-star, but like the majority of the players, finding the right system and environment can enable them to thrive. Here are three reasons why Mozgov is the actually an ideal fit for Cleveland.
1. An Understanding of the Offensive System and Coach
Cleveland Cavalier’s coach David Blatt had an excellent relationship with Mozgov in Russia (Blatt coached Mozgov at St. Petersburg in the Russian Basketball League ) and with superior players like LeBron James and Kevin Love who specialize in threading the needle with great passing, Mozgov will likely benefit from high percentage shots near the basket. Look for his current points per game average (8.7 ppg) to take a bump into the low double digits.
Mozgov is also an above average pick-and-roll center, and Blatt’s Princeton-style offense can suit a mobile center like Mozgov, who at 7-1 is a lean 250 pounds.
2. Mozgov Will Add Balance to the Cavalier Front Court
After Anderson Varejao went down with another season ending injury, the minutes have piled up for power forward/center Tristan Thompson, who is beginning to wear down. Mozgov will likely take over for Thompson and take on the role of starter. This will enable Thompson to grab rebounds and contribute to the Cavs’ second team. All-Star Kevin Love will also greatly benefit from this move as well, as he will have less responsibility playing center. Love will be able to roam the three point line and crash the boards while Mozgov protects the rim.
3. Mozgov Fills Immediate Need for Frontcourt Defense
Mozgov falls into the middle of the pack when it comes to defensive centers in the NBA, but for the Cavalier’s he’s a sure upgrade. The Cavaliers have struggled mightily in front court and back court defense. Mozgov’s 1.2 blocks per game and 7.8 rebounds per game will not turn the Cavs into a lock down defensive team, but he will add some respectability.
To some, the Mozgov trade is an afterthought to the mega trade pulled off earlier this week. However to insiders, Mozgov’s value is much higher than the consensus. He may not show an individually eye-opening improvement, but expect the Cavs to start winning games they would previously lose.