Cavs: Evan Mobley could be ideal defensive option for Giannis Antetokounmpo down road

The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to likely end up selecting third in the 2021 NBA Draft, which will commence on Thursday.

At that spot, while the likes of Jalen Suggs, and to a lesser extent it’d appear Jonathan Kuminga/Scottie Barnes could be, it seems that Evan Mobley could more so be Cleveland’s selection there.

And although the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic, the next two picks after Cleveland, have reportedly made offers to the Cavs for that #3 pick, I wouldn’t anticipate Cleveland to bite there; they shouldn’t, I believe, either.

In the event the Cavaliers do end up taking Mobley at that spot, which seems to be a likely scenario, that’s a player they and Cavs fans should be very excited about, too. The USC big had 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.4 assists per game in his lone collegiate season with the Trojans, and was a key reason why they made a run to the Elite Eight.

In relation to a possible Cavaliers outlook for Mobley, while I’d prefer him to come off the bench to begin his career, as he does need to get stronger/fill out more, as he only weighs 210 pounds, he’d get a bunch of playing time in Year 1, anyway. The role for him could gradually increase, too, and likely would.

Along with that, at least long term, I firmly believe Mobley could play for significant stretches/often with Jarrett Allen, who I’d expect Cleveland to lock up long term this offseason. He was recently extended a qualifying offer, for what it’s worth.

He is set to be a restricted free agent, though, but with Mobley’s passing abilities, defensive qualities, guard-like handle and I believe perimeter shooting potential that we’ll see materialize, he could play the 4 a good amount with Allen, even. The likes of Larry Nance Jr. and Dean Wade could appear a decent amount even as jumbo 3s with that duo, too.

In any case, on the subject of Mobley potentially with the Cavs, and with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s incredible postseason and NBA Finals run, it did get me thinking, and I’d think perhaps other Cavs fans, with Milwaukee not going anyway and even in Cleveland’s Central Division.

Down the road/in perhaps a couple/few years, Mobley could be an ideal defensive option for the Cavs for Antetokounmpo.

Now, obviously, I’m not saying a rookie could be a Giannis stopper. We’re not doing that, and Mobley again needs to put on weight gradually in coming seasons.

That said, projecting onward, I do believe that compared to most, with his fluidity/agility for a 7-footer, combined with his 7-foot-4 wingspan and shot blocking instincts, that Mobley could be a near-ideal on-ball defensive option to go against Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo is so difficult to defend generally, and when he can get downhill, combined with his length/long strides, it’s seemingly over often when he gets to the paint with momentum. Milwaukee’s shooting around Antetokounmpo helps open up gaps for him, too, even with help some.

Even so, with Mobley’s ability to hound opposing ball handlers, and with him having the quickness/agility and also near-length of Giannis, I do believe in a few years, he could give the recent NBA Finals MVP trouble defensively.

That’d be for the Cavs, in this sense, who play the Bucks four times a year, and perhaps could in the postseason in the near future.

Clearly, as we’ve harped on, Mobley does need to add strength/muscle to contend with Antetokounmpo as an on-ball primary matchup for stretches in coming years, along with other physical bigs on-ball early on in his career.

Looking onward though, with his ability to guard and sit and slide against quicker guards and be able to contain drives admirably against bigger wings when needed, in due time, he could eventually be a near-ideal matchup for Giannis. That’s with his ability to contest well/stay vertical to make a difference against interior threats also.

Two to three years from now, I could foresee Mobley defending for stretches on-ball/containing Antetokounmpo pretty well, at least in regards to most matchups game-to-game for the two-time NBA MVP.

While of course I could end up being wrong down the road, at least some early on, in some instances with Isaac Okoro/Larry Nance Jr. on-ball, and/or Lamar Stevens at times, Mobley could help as a key rotating rim protector help side against Antetokounmpo for Cleveland, too. And I’d foresee that being the case for a few years regardless, and/or against other key forward/power, driving scorers.

To drive the point home, however, down the road, with his multi-faceted defensive abilities and shot blocking instincts and with how he utilizes his length to smother drivers, and with how he could get deter some entry feeds, Mobley could be a near-ideal matchup for Giannis.

We’ll see if Cleveland ends up selecting the USC product in the 2021 NBA Draft, set to commence on July 29.