The Los Angeles Lakers are still very much rebuilding, at nearly every position. Head coach Luke Walton recently admitted his center, Timofey Mozgov has “had some ups and downs this year” and could do much better on defense.
“I need to pick it up, be more physical and hit people around,” Mozgov said, according to the Orange County Register’s Mark Medina. “It’s not like killing someone, but being stronger.”
The 7-footer has been averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds prior to Friday night’s game. Walton’s belief is that Mozgov’s legs might be a bit tired, but thinks he’s playing fine overall.
Mozgov had an early start to the season after playing for his native Russia in the Rio Olympics back in the summer, which could explain the tired legs this early in the season.
Beyond the lack of rest, Walton doesn’t believe the team’s defensive woes are directly connected to his newly-signed rim protector.
“I still have to do my job,” said Mozgov. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on. We have five guys on the court. We have to pick up each other. It doesn’t matter who breaks. It’s important for guys to know there’s somebody behind his back every time. If you want to be good on defense, you have to want to play defense. You have to take it personal.”
The 30-year-old is showing the right mentality despite his struggles and has recently started showing signs of life after a 14-point, five-rebound outing against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Timofey Mozgov signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Lakers during the summer.