With all the money that BC Khimki decided to spend on free agents this summersplurging for the services of former NBA players Jorge Garbajosa
, Carlos Delfino
, Milt Palacio
and otherswho would have anticipated that arguably their shrewdest signing would come from their second division team? Thats exactly what appears to have happenedat least since the mid-season hiring of Italian head coach Sergio Scariolo, and an injury to Maciej Lampe
. The 7-1 Mozgov has had some excellent games for the suburban Moscow-based teamfor example a 23 point, 6 rebound, 2 block effort in just 20 minutes against Panellinios, and a 14 point, 11 rebound, 3 block, and 3 steal night in 27 minutes against Benetton Treviso.
We discussed Mozgov last year already in some depth
, talking about an incredibly raw 7-footer with a WWF wresters body and intriguing athleticism for a player his size. No NBA team heeded the call, and despite being draft-eligible, Mozgovs name was not called at Madison Square Garden theater, making him a free agent for all 30 NBA teams now.
Its not hard to see what makes Mozgov unique on first glance. He is a true 7-footer who is built like a house, with long arms, and outstanding strength and athleticism. Imagine a bulkier Andris Biedrins
, or a Russian version of D.J. Mbenga
Mozgov is an extremely limited offensive player, who is mostly relegated to catching and finishing around the basket, and making his presence felt on the offensive glass. He is an absolute force as an offensive rebounder in fact, leading the EuroCup in that category per-minute. He loves to set bruising screens and then roll to the basket for an empathic alley-oop lob, and does a great job throwing his weight around in the paint and moving opposing centers around. His toughness and activity level are both top-notch, and help make up for some of the many shortcomings that he suffers from at this point.
Despite being a tremendous finisher around the basket, Mozgov possesses little in the ways of touch, post-moves, dribbling ability, footwork or any of the other skill-based attributes that most big men need in order to be effective at the highest level of competition. Hes not terribly coordinated, often looking like a bull in a china shop trying to execute advanced moves, thus being fairly turnover prone. While he gets to the free throw line at a solid rate, he only converts around 50% of his attempts, and is obviously incredibly limited when asked to do anything offensively outside of the paint. No one is going to confuse his passing ability or basketball IQ with that of Arvydas Sabonis
Defensively, Mozgov is a major presence, as hes extremely difficult to post up on the block and has all the size, length and athleticism needed to swallow up opposing centers whole, and then grab the ensuing rebound for good measure. He blocks one shot for every 9 minutes hes on the floor, and grabs a rebound every 3 minutes, which obviously makes him one of the more productive players youll find at his position in Europe. He brings very good intensity to this end of the floor, and has the added bonus of being agile enough to step out and hedge screens, showing very nice agility in the process. Mozgov still has a ways to go in terms of improving his fundamentals and all-around court awarenesshe still makes too many rookie mistakes to be trusted by most top-level coaches. Hes also fairly foul prone and has a tendency to bite on pump-fakes, being a bit naïve as you might expect from a player with little experience.
All in all, Mozgov looks like a very interesting prospect that teams would do well to keep tabs on, as you just dont find many players with his combination of size, strength, athleticism and intensity. Considering how much hes improved over the past year, and the fact that hes only 22 years old, there is no telling where hell be in a few years, as hes obviously a late-bloomer who is only getting better by the day.