Much has been made of Brian Shaw’s decision on Monday night to allow Timofey Mozgov to attempt a game winning three. In what has become a lost season for the Nuggets it was a chance to steal a game against a potential playoff team and it was thrown away before anyone, including the Grizzlies, really had any idea what was going on.
I thought long and hard about what exactly Shaw’s motive was with the shot and came up empty. Until the other night when I was visited in my dreams by the ghost of Mozgov future and shown what would have happened if big Mozzy made the shot.
The following is the account of that trip. (That never actually happened. Seriously I’m not crazy).
Confidence is one of the most important parts of an NBA player’s game. When things aren’t going well players can look like a shell of their actual selves but when things are going well good players become great, great players become amazing and superstars go through all-time great stretches.
Making that three made Mozgov brim with confidence and it carried into the final few games of 2014. He finished all his dunks, made three more threes and genuinely looked the part of an NBA starting center.
The Nuggets were hopeful that with a summers worth of growth Mozgov would be one half of a two headed monster at center in 2015. But something weird happened and instead of staying in Denver, Mozgov left for the summer to go work on his game in a place he wouldn’t disclose to the Nuggets.
Entering the season Denver suddenly had no idea if Mozgov would be the monster they had hoped for or a 320 pound blob who spend the summer eating everything in sight.
Once he finally emerged from his mysterious disappearance, Mozgov had morphed into a terrifying hybrid of 2001 playoff Shaquille O’Neal and 2013 playoff Stephen Curry; a player who averaged 30 points and four threes a game during his 2014-2015 MVP campaign.
In the post he bullied smaller players, which is most of the NBA, when faced with one of the few players that could match his size and strength on the block Mozgov simply ran like Kyle Korver off of Darrell Arthur screens and rained threes from all over the court.
Perhaps the highlight of his season came in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals when Denver trailed Memphis by two with just five seconds left. Shaw called the play everyone knew was coming, the same play he ran Monday night. Memphis defended it perfectly forcing Mozgov to catch the ball 33 feet from the basket, but it didn’t matter. The seven foot Russian monster rose up and calmly drilled a three to send the Nuggets to the NBA Finals where they defeated Masai Ujiri’s Toronto Raptors in just five games.
Mozgov continued the stellar play for the rest of his Hall of Fame career, though it never quite reached the heights of 2014-2015.
End of story
So to answer everyone’s question from the other night, that is why Brian Shaw drew up a play to get Timofey Mozgov a game winning three point attempt. Because if he made it Timofey Mozgov would have become a Hall of Famer and the Nuggets would have won the 2015 NBA Championship. Or something like that.