Cavs would be wise to take flyer on Mfiondu Kabengele

Big Mfiondu Kabengele, then of the LA Clippers, runs back on defense. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Big Mfiondu Kabengele, then of the LA Clippers, runs back on defense. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /
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Mfiondu Kabengele, Cleveland Cavaliers
Head coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers and then-Clippers big Mfiondu Kabengele (#25) react after a win. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The Cavs could be taking a flyer on some untapped two-way/stretch big potential in Kabengele

Cutting to the chase here, Kabengele has not gotten much burn in meaningful minutes to this point in his NBA career with the Clippers. Given he’s still a young player, though, and with the likes of Montrezl Harrell last season, to go with still Ivica Zubac, and this season, to some extent, Serge Ibaka, that’s not been surprising.

The former Florida State Seminole played in only 12 games in his rookie campaign, and an average of only 5.3 minutes in those appearances. This season, he played just 4.1 minutes per game in 23 appearances. In his young career to this point, while it’s not exactly noteworthy, he’s had a career mark of 2.0 points and 0.7 rebounds per game.

With Kabengele, though, while the volume was only 1.8 attempts per outing, he did flash some potential stretch big qualities at FSU in his sophomore season, in which he hit 24 of his 65 three-point attempts, a 36.9 percent clip. In his freshman campaign, he hit 10 of his 26 triple attempts, a 38.5 percent hit rate.

And while the vast majority of his meaningful run with the Clippers’ organization was with their G League Affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers, he did show some more catch-and-shoot/pick-and-pop potential with them. In his 2019-20 burn with them last season, he had 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per outing and started each game.

In the potential floor spacing realm, he wasn’t the most efficient deep shooter in the world, clearly, as he 32.7 percent of his deep attempts then. But that was on a robust 6.0 attempts per game, so you have to factor in that, too. Again, as a potential 10-day flyer/two 10-day contract flyer, that stretch big viability perhaps could be something that he could display if given chances.

When it comes to the other end of the floor, Kabengele is more so a drop big, but even as kind of a 4/5 tweener at 6-foot-9, he is a rim protection presence, to some degree at least, and did have 1.9 blocks per outing in his G League burn.

Plus, Kabengele, while only 6-foot-9, does have a 7-foot-3 wingspan, which could help in some burn for spurts on the defensive interior, again if given the opportunities by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kabengele is Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew, for added context, regarding the rim protection.

He is a highly capable rebounder at both ends of the floor, too, which could make a difference and aid seemingly the likes of Kevin Love, Dean Wade and/or perhaps, on occasion when he’s back (concussion), in lineups here and there with Jarrett Allen.

Again, via possible 10-day signing and/or a rest-of-season deal that could maybe also include a non-guaranteed contract for next season, too, Cleveland might be able to tap into something with Kabengele in the stretch/two-way big realm.

And secondly, the Cavaliers bigs being banged up right now would make a potential Kabengele free agent signing a wise one.