Looking Ahead: 4 Centers the Clippers Can Target in 2016

3 of 5

Timofey Mozgov (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Mar 15, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA;Cleveland Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov (20) high fives teammates against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before Mozgov’s stint in Cleveland, I knew how talented the Russian was. What myself and others didn’t know was Mozgov having top-10 center talent, something shown in the center’s breakout playoff run where he averaged 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks while anchoring a very impressive defense.

A jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none figure, Mozgov’s 7’1 frame would be the perfect last line of protection behind the Clippers’ wobbly perimeter defense. There’s no LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love on the Clippers to make life easy for Mozgov on the other end of the floor but Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two of the best playmakers at their positions, is a nice consolation prize.

The allure of Mozgov is similar to that of DeAndre Jordan’s — the two (as are other listed bigs) are low-usage centers who can impact the game on both ends without ever having to score a basket. Mozgov can be used as the pick man, as the cut/lob man, as a seldom pick-and-pop man, and can be fed in transition. And in dire situations — or what, whichever — Mozgov can fetch you a basket in the low-post. You won’t find many centers as well-rounded in the NBA than this one. More talented? Sure (Cousins, M. Gasol, etc.). Better in one particular facet? Sure (Jordan – rebounding, Gobert – rim protection, Bosh – mid-range shooting, etc.). But all-around game? He’s near the top of the list.

And for those wondering, Mozgov is a career 70% shooter from the free-throw line.

Given how LeBron James has put pressure on Dan Gilbert to re-sign free agents this summer, if James signs a 1+1 deal that’d make him a free agent next summer via a declined player option, we can assume the same will be done, but with Timofey Mozgov as the player of interest instead of Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, and Tristan Thompson. Even with the salary cap jump, the Cavaliers will be hit with a large luxury tax bill, especially when you factor in James’ upcoming contract. Will Gilbert give in and put himself in position to be the recipient of a hefty repeater’s tax? Maybe. If not, that may be the window needed for the Clippers — or any other team with space — to swoop in sign the 28-year-old  center.

Next: The NBA's Biggest Surprise