Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton told reporters on Tuesday that he wasn’t worried about Timofey Mozgov’s struggles. But while Mozgov was never expected to post giant box score averages, the Lakers’ biggest offseason acquisition is averaging just 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, a source of consternation among some of the fanbase.
More worryingly given Mozgov being advertised as a possible salve for the Lakers’ defense, the team is significantly better defensively when he sits. Some would consider drastic measures to solve such a problem, but Mozgov told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register that there are some lengths he just won’t go to in order to solve his problems (emphasis mine):
As the Lakers’ primary target in free agency last summer, center Timofey Mozgov has one idea that could yield a stronger return on the team’s four-year, $64 million investment.
“I need to pick it up, be more physical and hit people around,” Mozgov said. “It’s not like killing someone, but being stronger.”
It’s good to know that Mozgov does not actually intend to murder any of his opponents and/or teammates in a misguided effort to grow his game.
If we’re judging physicality by fouls committed, that actually hasn’t been a problem for Mozgov. The seven-footer is averaging 4.1 fouls per 36 minutes, meaning he’d often be treading perilously close to fouling out if he played more than 21.8 minutes per game.
Whatever ends up being the solution to Mozgov’s issues (insofar that there is one), the Lakers certainly have to hope he finds it soon so they can salvage value out of his gargantuan deal over the next few years. Or at the very least so he doesn’t reconsider his stance on vigilantism.
Medina’s whole story on Mozgov’s struggles is worth your time and you can read it here. All stats per NBA.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.