With the San Antonio Spurs being involved in the recent Greg Oden sweepstakes, it's been clear that they're looking for a young big man to play some minutes behind the 37-year-old Tim Duncan and newly re-signed Tiago Splitter.
According to Steve Kyler of Hoops World, the Spurs have been interested in adding Denver Nuggets back-up center Timofey Mozgov to their team. Although he was initially thought to be heading to the Sacramento Kings, the Spurs have recently emerged as another possible candidate to land him.
Mozgov has been a regular at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, going hard daily against the likes of Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka. The word around Summer League was that Mozgov was headed to the Sacramento Kings as a free agent, although the Denver Nuggets were trying to re-sign him.
The Spurs have emerged as a team interested in Mozgov and they could be the team trying to construct a deal with Denver.
Mozgov's NBA career has been a roller coaster ride thus far and he never really had a chance to set his feet and establish himself as a solid rotational player. He was part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster that moved him to the Denver Nuggets at the 2011 trade deadline (via ESPN).
Mozgov was the primary back-up center for the Nuggets at the start of the 2011-12 season, but he saw his minutes steadily decline after the Nuggets traded for the athletic 7-foot monster known as JaVale McGee.
As a result, Mozgov only saw 8.9 minutes of action per game and appeared in just 41 contests in the 2012-13 season (per Basketball Reference). However, he has proven in his limited minutes that he is a quality, tough-minded center who plays with a lot of energy every time he steps onto the court.
He is only 27 years old and approaching his third NBA season, but he is still very raw and relies on offensive rebound putbacks and high percentage attempts at the rim to score most of his points. With Duncan tutoring him and helping him develop his game, Mozgov would quickly learn his role on the Spurs and make an immediate impact off the bench.
There's also another thing that he has going for him: his size.
Mozgov is a legitimate 7'1", 250-pound center. In contrast to the typical stereotype (via Greg Couch of Sporting News) of European basketball players being classified as "soft", Mozgov breaks this mold entirely and uses his physical body to the fullest extent down in the paint.
Here are some highlights of Mozgov going up against Team USA in a scrimmage game.
Big men with the size and strength of Mozgov are hard to come by, and his body alone will turn some heads. As we have witnessed with Andrew Bynum, getting a new contract after missing an entire season with troublesome knees, and Greg Oden, being sought after by a handful of teams, the league knows how valuable and important big men are. Even though Mozgov has never shown the talent or skills of a player like Bynum or Oden (pre-NBA), his size alone is enough to net him a deal.
With the Spurs, Mozgov could develop his game under one of the best organizations and coaches in the NBA. Even if he never fully develops a reliable offensive game, his energy on the glass and willingness to throw his physical body around in the paint would make him a great back-up for Splitter.
Last season, the Spurs were tied with the Philadelphia 76ers as the 20th best rebounding team in the league, averaging a mediocre 41.3 total rebounds per game. The Spurs don't have a great rebounding presence off the bench, but Mozgov could help continue the rebounding tenacity when the starters need a break.
If the Spurs add Mozgov to their team, he will most likely be fighting with summer league standout Aron Baynes for the bulk of the reserve minutes as the season rolls along. If anything, Mozgov will be another big body to clog the paint and contribute to one of the weaker areas of this team.