It’s been an interesting offseason in the Mile High City. After arguably the best year in franchise history, the Denver Nuggets drastically changed the direction of franchise by not re-signing Coach of the Year George Karl and Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri. The Nuggets decided to hire young guns Brian Shaw and Tim Connelly. One of first moves by the new regime was trading Kosta Koufos to the Memphis Grizzles for Darrell Arthur and a draft pick. Kosta Koufos was a serviceable big man for the Nuggets last year, averaging eight points and 6.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. So who do the Nuggets plan to rely on? It seems like Timofey Mozgov is part of the plan after receiving a three-year, $14 million contract.
To the eyes of many the departure of Andre Iguodala will be the most crippling loss to the Nuggets roster. While the former All-Star is a great player, he did have a down year for the Nuggets last winter and is very replaceable. Iguodala had a mediocre PER of 15.27 in 2012-13. Additionally, Iguodala had a career low in true shooting percentage. One player will not be able to completely replace the former Arizona Wildcat, but with the addition of Nate Robinson and continued growth of Ty Lawson, the Nuggets will be just fine in that department.
In my opinion if the Nuggets want to maintain ground in the West, they will have find a way to replace Kosta Koufos’s production. That will be especially hard considering Danilo Gallinari will be recovering from a torn ACL for the first half of the season.
Mozgov is an interesting talent. The Russian averaged a double-double per 36 minutes in 2012-13. The problem? He only played 8.9 minutes a game. It will be interesting to see how he responses to additional playing time. Mozgov does, however, have a great international track record.
In the 2012 Olympic Games, Mozgov helped lead his Russian team to a bronze medal. Over the course of eight games the 7’1’’ center averaged 10 points and 3.5 rebounds in 18 minutes. Can Brian Shaw help Mozgov develop into a serviceable big man? That could be his first major test for Shaw and his staff. Mozgov has one thing that is not coachable–height. With the help of Shaw, Roy Hibbert was able to develop himself into an All-Star caliber big man. Can Mozgov develop into a solid rotational player under Shaw’s guidance? That will be something to keep an eye on this winter.