Worst Starter No. 13 – Timofey Mozgov
The Cleveland Cavaliers did their best to build a contending team around LeBron James that first summer, but there was only so much they could do at that point. After a few months of play, they identified which players fit best around The King, and which needed to go. At that point, in January of 2015, they pulled the trigger on a pair of trades to shake up the rotation.
One of those trades was to add Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov, a 7’1″ behemoth to man the center position. He started all but one game for the Cavaliers in his first season, including all 20 postseason appearances. Mozgov averaged 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in the playoffs in 2015, but then was famously roasted when the Golden State Warriors went small in the NBA Finals.
By the next season, the changing NBA started to move past Mozgov, and the Cavaliers recognized they needed to be faster and more versatile defensively. Mozgov started 48 of 76 games that year as new head coach Ty Lue experimented with lineups, and then by the playoffs he was on the fringes of the rotation entirely.
That marginalization by a team that won the title should have been a warning flag to the rest of the NBA, but the Los Angeles Lakers still decided to give Mozgov a four-year, $64 million contract in free agency, an absolutely massive deal at the time; he would be out of the league just two years later.