Last season seems like a dream compared to this season. After being on the struggling Denver Nuggets who were intent on starting a long rebuilding process, Mozgov was moved to a championship contender without any real competition for the starting spot. He went from lottery to the NBA finals. For the most part, last season he filled his role perfectly. He was a great wingman for the big three of LeBron, Irving and Love, doing all the little things that nobody notices. He set good screens, used his height and verticality on defense and rebounded reasonably well. In the Finals, he exploded in the absence of Kyrie and Kevin Love, he scored 28 points and 10 rebounds in the game 4 loss and ended up averaging 14 points and 7.5 rebounds throughout the series.
This season is more of a Stephen King novel. Mozgov has seen his playing time decreased by nearly 8 per game and for good reason. He has only contributed 6 points and 4.3 rebounds on 50% shooting, 9% points less than last season. His PER has dropped from a solid 18.7, to 13.0. He has also seen his remarkably high offensive rating of 117 fall to 104. Mozgov also makes his team 7.6 points worse per 100 possessions when he is on the court, having negative impacts on both offense and defense. Because of all this, coach Blatt has opted for Tristan Thompson in his starting lineup in recent games.
After struggling throughout the first half of the season, the Cavs are looking to trade him according to multiple reports, looking to move him before February's trade deadline. So what could the Cavs get for him? What teams would be interested? I'm about to answer all your questions.
After missing out on DeAndre Jordan during the greatest free agent saga of all time, the Mavs stumbled into Zaza Pachulia, who has given them a great season, with 10.8 points and rebounds. Pachulia has given the Mavs a rock solid backbone and a surprising fifth seed spot in the playoff race at the moment. But unfortunately, the Mavs have no real other depth at the center position, unless you count JaVale McGee as depth. If the Mavs want to make a playoff run, this is the most glaring weakness on their squad. Mozgov would give them another option, help out their defense and be a good rotational big man for big D.
In terms of what Cleveland might want, Dallas don't really have anything that the Cavs would need. However, the Mavericks do have a large quantity of point guards that could useful to a potential third team trade partner. We're looking at guys like Devin Harris, JJ Barea and Ray Felton here. Unfortunately, with Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and Mo Williams already on roster, these players are useless for the Cavs.
Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks were a massive shock. The team that owned the worst record in 2014, made a surprising playoff appearance as the sixth seed in a weak Eastern Conference. Their main calling card was defense. They had one of the best defenses last year as their length and athleticism made it possible for them to play an extremely high pressure trapping and pressing defensive system, something that worked to perfection. The Bucks wanted to improve their placement in the East by improving their offense, so they signed Greg Monroe, an old school, back-to-basket scorer who always seems to find a way to put the ball in the bucket. This was at the expense of Zaza Pachulia, their former rim protector and most important defensive player. The loss of Pachulia and addition of Monroe has caused their defense to plummet. They now rank in the bottom 10 for both points allowed and defensive efficiency, while not gaining a lot of ground offensively. The Bucks need to do something at the deadline to improve their placing and potentially make a late playoff push.
This is where Timofey Mozgov and the Cavs come in. The big Russian is a strong defender who rarely loses ground. He uses his verticality very well and due to this is an effective rim protector. If the Bucks want a defensive big and don't want to give up much to get him, the Cavs will be the answer.
The Bucks have an abundance of playoff quality players on their team, all of which the Cavs could use to strengthen other areas of their roster. A couple of possible trade options are O.J. Mayo, who could bring a savvy scoring touch of the bench and Chris Copeland, who is a great spot up shooter.
The Hornets have surprised me a lot this year. Once Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was ruled out for the season, a gave up hope, believing that their just wasn't enough defensive energy to keep these guys alive. I thought that they would slump to the bottom of the conference and return to picking in the top 5.
It would appear that I was wrong.
Steve Clifford redeemed himself after a disappointing year two and has put together a masterful coaching effort. Both Kemba Walker and Nicholas Batum have been playing at close to all-star level, their defense, which should, on the face of it, be awful, has been feisty enough to get stops (until recently) and their offense has benefited from excellent spacing. However, after spending much of the season at the top of the Eastern Conference hierarchy, they now have slumped into 12th position, losing 9 of their last 10. They need a boost of sorts and I think that comes at center, where they haven't really found a solution all season. Al Jefferson hasn't performed and has been injured for around half of the season, Cody Zeller, while passing the eye test (for me anyway) makes Charlotte statistically worse when he is on the floor, Spencer Hawes has made Charlotte better statistically, but doesn't get enough playing time and Frank Kaminsky is still a rookie. If Charlotte want to make the playoffs, this is where they need to improve.
Timofey Mozgov would improve their falling defense and provides dependability and consistency that some of the other options do not. Hopefully, Steve Clifford would be able to coach him back into form, just as he has done for Batum, Hawes and even Jeremy Lamb and Lin.