Remember, a couple of weeks ago, a video emerged on Instagram showing Timofey Mozgov shooting —and making— three pointers? The question was, is this just a big guy playfully testing his range or is it something we should expect to see next season?
In an interview published this weekend on Sport Express, the Russian sports site, Mozgov answers the question. Yes, it’s part of how the Nets plan to use him. Just as Kenny Atkinson gave Brook Lopez the green light last season, he’s asked the Russian 7-footer to include the three-pointer in his arsenal.
“I’ve started working on this,” he said according to a translation of the interview. “In fact, I can shoot three-pointers. In the past, I've been on teams where there was always someone who could shoot them.
“I’ve already talked with the coach. It seems to me, this year it will surprise many that I’ll can shoot the ‘treshki’ (laughs). It will be interesting. But we'll see.
“When I first spoke with the coach, we were on the same page. But this does not mean that I’ll be like Steph Curry, in a frenzy taking 10 shots (a game). I have a main job that I have to perform.”
When the reporter noted that Marc Gasol can put up six or seven a game, Mozgov responded that it is a new phenomenon for centers.
"It's only in the last few years. Before that he did not shoot so many. Brook Lopez, who had never shot the three before, put them in this season with (better than) 30 percent accuracy. This is basketball.”
In his NBA career, Mozgov has attempted 40 three point shots, making seven. A tiny number, but it’s twice the number Lopez took and made before his explosion last season, when Atkinson gave him the greenlight. Lopez made 3-of-21 in his first eight seasons, then 134 out of 387 last year.
Of Mozgov’s total, most of his attempts, 24 to be exact, came in 2012-13. He made four that year. Not encouraging. But Mozgov does have a deep two-point range. Over the last three years, he’s made better than 43 percent of his shots from between 16 feet and three point range, better than Lopez in those years, in fact. The sample is somewhat small.
And we may not have to wait till October to see how he does. Mozgov was practicing those three pointers at a Team Russia training facility. Russia will play in FIBA Eurobasket next month.
In another part of the lengthy interview, Mozgov said he hopes to provide veteran leadership to the Nets. He is, after all, the only Nets player with a ring, having been part of the Cavaliers 2016 championship.
“If it is a matter of leadership, then yes. This does not mean that I have to score the most points. It seems to me that having survived last season (with the Lakers), I am now ready for more,” the 31-year-old said.
Mozgov said he only spoke with Sean Marks for about 15 minutes during his three days in Brooklyn following the trade that sent to Lopez to L.A. in return for him and D’Angelo Russell. Most of the time was spent with physicals.
“In America it is now fashionable to accumulate a history of tests - you can see progress or what your knees turn into. And if there had been a trauma, you can see the difference, what was before and what now. They do not spare money for this.
“The doctor told me that I'm all right, that for the big guy who plays in the NBA, I have my knees that are almost like new. You have to rejoice at that.”
In general, he said he found that “Everyone is hungry for basketball, it's nice to be in such an environment.”
One surprise in the lengthy interview: Mozgov did not mention Russell. In fact, the only player he praised from last year’s Lakers was Brandon Ingram.