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Denver Nuggets player reviews: Timofey Mozgov

Second-year center averaged career-high 5.4 points while starting 35 games

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

With the 2011-12 season in the books and 2012-13 approaching, Nuggets.com is taking a closer at the team’s primary rotation players and how they fared during a challenging 66-game schedule. Denver assistant coach John Welch was kind enough to provide candid assessments, which reflect the views of the Nuggets coaching staff as a whole.

Today’s featured player is center Timofey Mozgov, a talented 7-footer who continued to show why the Nuggets were adamant about acquiring him as part of the four-team, 13-player trade on Feb. 22, 2011.

After emerging from training camp as the starting center, Mozgov played well during the first six weeks of the season before spraining his left ankle against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 3.

He missed 10 of the next 19 games due to the injury but still finished the season with career highs in points (5.4) and rebounds (4.1) per game.

In the playoffs, Mozgov came off the bench in Denver’s first two games against the Lakers before coach George Karl inserted him into the starting lineup. Mozgov ran the floor and played physical on defense, averaging 3.3 points and 1.33 blocks in the final five games of the series.

Mozgov, 26, spent part of the summer playing for the Russian national team at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Venezuela and the Olympics in London. He averaged 10 points and 3.4 rebounds to help the Russians capture the bronze medal.

Though Mozgov will enter training camp as the incumbent starter, he will battle fellow 7-footers JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos for minutes in the low post.

John Welch’s 2011-12 Evaluation
“The biggest thing with Timo is his confidence. The combination of the injuries and some foul trouble really hurt him. We thought he did a really nice job of protecting the rim, and he was good in the pick-and-rolls.”

Summer Improvements
“He played well with Team Russia at the Olympics. That can carry over into the season. We need to get him confident and get him on the court playing. Once we do that, he’ll be fine. It’s not like we have to develop this, that or the other.”

Game to Remember
Playing in New York for the first time since being traded by the Knicks, Mozgov scored a season-high 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in a 119-114 double-over time victory on Jan. 21.

Stat That Bears Re-Tweeting
.636 – Mozgov’s shooting percentage over his final 12 games of the regular season. He was 28-for-44 during that stretch, capped by a 7-of-8 performance against Minnesota in the season finale.