Cavs’ Evan Mobley being recruited to join a new team for Olympics

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images /

Evan Mobley is one of the best young players in the NBA right now. The Cleveland Cavaliers big man was a Defensive Player of the Year finalist in just his second season. In this website’s draft of the best players 23 and under a few weeks ago, Mobley was the fourth overall pick.

Mobley’s versatility on defense allows him to provide elite rim protection while also being comfortable and capable of defending on the perimeter. He can anchor a drop coverage, execute a switching scheme and be the tip of the spear in a zone. Having Mobley gives a team one of the best defensive weapons in the league.

Evan Mobley is a weapon for international basketball

That makes Mobley quite the catch for international play. Team USA knows that firsthand; Mobley became a high school star while playing for USA’s U17 and U19 teams. He was one of the stars of the 2019 U19 team that won the FIBA U19 World Cup, a team boasting each of the Top 5 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Mobley has never played for Team USA at the senior team level, which is not overly surprising; Jaren Jackson Jr. is older and more established starting for the team, and Mobley is good enough that he may not have wanted to give up his summer of development just to play spot minutes. There is certainly another reason, though: he could be keeping his options open to play for another team.

While the FIBA World Cup has been going on, other teams have been playing in qualifying tournaments to have a shot at making it into the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France next summer. One such tournament for The Americas region was won by The Bahamas, who upset host Argentina to make it into a play-in tournament next summer; the winner of that tournament will win a berth in the Olympics.

NBA Insider Marc Stein discussed the sudden rise of The Bahamas, who recruited Deandre Ayton and Eric Gordon to help the team take a step forward this year. There are a number of other players that The Bahamas could recruit to join them next summer, including Naz Reid, four-time NBA champion Klay Thompson, and Isaiah and Evan Mobley.

Could Evan Mobley change teams next summer?

The Mobleys’ grandfather was Bahamian, which means they currently have eligibility to play for The Bahamas since neither has played for another country at the Senior Team level. Klay Thompson has, for example, so he would need to petition to change countries. Naz Reid, having played for the Team USA Select Team, and Evan Mobley, having played only at the U19 and lower levels, are still eligible.

Many players choose to compete for Team USA over another country, choosing the honor of playing for their current nation over the larger role on another country’s national team. Paolo Banchero chose to play for Team USA in this year’s World Cup, choosing them over Italy which was recruiting him intently.

If Isaiah Mobley wants to compete internationally he will need to do so for The Bahamas, making him a good bet to join Ayton on the team next summer. For Evan, the choice is a more difficult one, as he is good enough to one day make the senior national team for the USA.

That doesn’t mean it’s a clear path, however. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Banchero are both playing for Team USA in this summer’s World Cup. Bam Adebayo is likely to return for the Paris Olympics next summer. Joel Embiid is being recruited to join Team USA over France. That’s a lot of bigs, and it could push Mobley’s chance to play for the squad out to the 2027 World Cup.

If Evan wants to play sooner, he could be a star starting alongside Ayton for The Bahamas as early as next summer. A team with Eric Gordon, Buddy Hield, Deandre Ayton, Naz Reid and both Aytons would have to be considered a strong candidate to qualify for The Olympics and potentially do damage once there.

Playing in international competitions often serves as a boost to the players involved, and it would be exciting to see how the Mobleys take a step forward if they take part next summer. It would also be a special connection for the two brothers to make to their grandfather’s family.

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It’s way too early to make a prediction or to guess what Evan is thinking, but with The Bahamas qualifying for the play-in tournament next summer, suddenly the option is on the table. Evan could grow his star somewhere other than the USA, and that’s an intriguing idea.