Should Isaiah Mobley or Damian Jones be the Cavs’ backup center?

Damian Jones, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports)
Damian Jones, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Damian Jones, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports) /

Damian Jones’ case for the backup center

Damian Jones is 6-foot-11, so he isn’t undersized at all for the center position. He doesn’t average a ton of blocks, but per-36 minutes, he averages 1.7 blocks for his career. Jones isn’t Hakeem Olajuwon out here, but he definitely isn’t a slouch on defense, either. Jones is a respectable center who can block shots, get rebounds, and set screens effectively in his minutes.

To start his career, Jones was a poor free throw shooter, as he shot 30.0 percent in 10 games in his rookie season. Sure, the sample size was small, but in his three years in college at Vanderbilt, he was a career 56.5 percent shooter from the charity stripe. However, for his career, he is a 70.6 percent free throw shooter in the NBA, which indicates his improvement from the line. Last season, he shot 75.9 percent from the line, playing for both the Los Angeles Lakers and the aforementioned Jazz.

One thing to also mention is that Jones averages 5.2 fouls per-36 minutes for his career, which is not a good statistic. As a center, playing without fouling isn’t easy, but it has to be done to be able to become a great player.

Additionally, Jones has never been a floor spacer, regarding the offensive end. Despite that, his solid free throw statistics show that he could become a catch-and-shoot player, to some degree.

For Utah last year, Jones started taking some three-pointers. In his 19 games in Utah, Jones shot 71.4 percent from the 3-point arc. That stat is mind-blowing, but considering he only took 0.7 triples a game, also combined with his limited sample size, it could very well be a fluke. However, if he takes three-pointers in Cleveland and is able to hit them, watch out.

So, what should J.B. Bickerstaff do between Mobley and Jones, then?

The Verdict: Bickerstaff should lean Jones going into the season.

Mobley should probably stick in the G League for a bit longer into the season, and with his two-way re-signing, at least at this point, that’s the likely scenario. Perhaps Mobley’s deal eventually gets converted; we’ll have to see.

Bickerstaff should play Damian Jones around 15-20 minutes per night, just to have another center in the rotation for when Jarrett Allen is on the bench.

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Maybe the Cavaliers are able to get a better center at the trade deadline, or even sign a better one for the veteran minimum in free agency. As of now, though, both Isaiah Mobley and Damian Jones have great cases to be the backup center behind Jarrett Allen, or at least to play in that role more to take pressure off of Evan Mobley, who will likely still play some there.