Cavs might be onto something with Isaiah Mobley draft pick

Isaiah Mobley, USC Trojans. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Isaiah Mobley, USC Trojans. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

On Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up making four selections at #14, #39, #49 and #56.

It was admittedly a bit surprising that after Cleveland made a trade with the Sacramento Kings to acquire the #49 pick, that they didn’t move, say, further up in the second round. Or perhaps Cleveland could’ve used their then three second-rounders to move back up to the late-first.

From a guarantee perspective, them not doing the latter I do understand, though. I did get why the Cavaliers ended up stashing overseas picks Khalifa Diop (#39, Gran Canaria of Spain’s Liga ACB) and likely stashing Luke Travers (#56, Perth Wildcats of Australia’s NBL). Those guys, seemingly in the reportedly likely event Travers is stashed as well, wouldn’t affect roster numbers next season at least, and could be developmental prospects that could help the team down the road.

When it came to the other selections, Cleveland took Ochai Agbaji at #14, a player that could be a ready-made catch-and-shoot guy, and then Isaiah Mobley at #49. Agbaji is the player that could be a viable role player early, and could seemingly receive his share of chances next season as a floor spacer and possibly movement shooter/cutter.

With Mobley, it’s probably difficult to foresee him getting many meaningful minutes next season. He’s not his brother, Evan Mobley, who looked to be a franchise centerpiece and perennial All-Star in the near future from the jump last season.

That said, Isaiah could end up becoming a nice bench piece in coming years for Cleveland as a rotational 5, and guy that could play some at the 4 in theory. This could be more than just an “Evan’s brother” move.

The Cavs could be onto something with Isaiah Mobley as a contributor down the road.

The low-hanging fruit aspect to the Mobley pick in the 2022 NBA Draft’s second round was that Isaiah is Evan’s brother, as the Cavs Twitterverse loved to point out. I acknowledge that the pick was a bit with that in mind to me, too, sure.

But this pick could end up being a pretty nice one in the not-too-distant future.

After returning for his junior season at USC in 2021-22, Mobley had more of a featured offensive role, en route to having 14.2 points per contest. Along with that, he had 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, both of which were also clearly collegiate career-bests for him.

He did show some growth as a catch-and-shoot player in his sophomore season, one when he played often with Evan in the Trojans frontcourt, then hitting 43.6 percent from three, albeit on just 1.2 attempts per outing. He did show more willingness to fire from deep off-the-catch this past season, though, attempting 3.8 triples per game, and hit 35.2 percent from three.

So, in theory, with further development, there could be something there from Mobley as a stretch big for rotational stretches at the 5, I’d think.

Along with the stretch big potential, Mobley is, like his brother, another more than capable passing big, and with more opportunities it seemed this past season, that was shown more at USC. He’s a guy that passes well out of the interior, can make plays hitting shooters in a timely manner, and he did flash some grab-and-go abilities last season.

I’m not saying that Isaiah is going to be an offensive hub for Cleveland, but upon more developmental time with the team, and I’d think with the Cavaliers G League affiliate, the Cleveland (formerly Canton) Charge, he could continue to improve as a passer. He and Evan could maybe be a frontcourt duo at times even next season as well, given their chemistry, on both ends as well.

Defensively, Isaiah is a smart player as well, and does a pretty solid job on the interior. He’s not the rim deterrent or shot alterer of Evan, however, he does a competent job usually as a rotator playing with verticality, and while he’s not the 7-footer of his brother, he’s stout at 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds.

He’s not a guy that projects as necessarily a switch big, but he is a heady rotator when needed, rebounds the ball pretty well, and in rotational stretches, he could be a nice option to have as an interior presence at both ends that he is a cerebral player.

He could be viable as a roller some in pick-and-roll situations with Darius Garland, among others, also.

Anyway, I’m not saying that Isaiah is a player that’s going to necessarily be a regular rotational player in his first season. That’s probably unlikely, honestly.

Looking onward, though, the Cavaliers could be onto something with this Mobley selection in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft. He’s a player that likely has more upside offensively than Moses Brown long term, and while I did like some of what Brown showed in flashes at the end of last season, Mobley is a high IQ defender, can pass and displayed stretch big potential last season.

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Needless to say, in time, this Isaiah Mobley pick could lead to a nice rotational contributor perhaps later on next season, or in years to come with more developmental work.