Evan Mobley could be a defensive difference-maker for Team USA

Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors and Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors and Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /

Recently, it was reported how LeBron James is showing interest and seems set to play for Team USA in the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2024 in Paris. If he were to do so, James would be gunning for his third gold medal in four tries as a participant in the Olympics.

In the same report from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (subscription required), Charania expressed how superstars such as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry appear to have a high likelihood of playing alongside James for the US squad. Furthermore, others such as Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis could be in line to do so it seems as well, but that’s admittedly a ways out.

The US is looking to rebound from another FIBA World Cup where they failed to medal. Last week, the Americans lost to the eventual champion in Germany in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Semifinals, and Canada would go on to beat the US in the matchup, which decided third place.

Granted, when it comes to Olympic Men’s Basketball competition, Team USA has won five straight gold medals. They’ll be trying to make that six in a row next year in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Now, as it pertains to the possible US team for then, players such as LeBron, Durant and Curry, if they committed, would be top options for the Americans. Others such as Damian Lillard, Irving, Booker and Davis could have their share of looks for stretches, too, for what it’s worth, involving reported potential players.

That said, some younger players could be sensible to have in the fold for Team USA, and from a Cleveland Cavaliers fans’ perspective, players like Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell could be logical options. But, regarding possible Cavs for then, Evan Mobley might be the one guy with a clearcut role to have in that context. In that vein, it was intriguing to see Mobley highlighted as one of five logical star options for LeBron and Team USA to consider recently by The Whiteboard of The Step Back.

Mobley could be a defensive difference-maker for Team USA.

Mobley made strides offensively as last season progressed, and despite his struggles on that end in the playoffs, he can build upon his second half of last regular season.

He had 17.5 points per contest on 55.3 percent shooting in his last 43 regular season appearances of 2022-23. Mobley was more assertive then, and next season, him seemingly being in line for more playmaking duties could pay dividends.

In this context, though, Mobley’s already-elite defense could make him a difference-maker on that end with Team USA for stretches. He was named NBA First Team All-Defense for his efforts last season and is just 22.

Mobley’s ability to defend on the perimeter but also provide great rim protection and team defense with his length and IQ is what comes to mind here.

Mobley’s versatility, defensive activity and rim protection was one of the primary reasons for Cleveland’s success defensively this past season, and the year prior.

Mobley had 1.5 blocks per game in his second year, and was fourth in the NBA in shot contests per game in the 2022-23 season. While he’ll hopefully continue to get stronger by that point, Mobley is already one of the NBA’s best defensive bigs, and he could be a key role piece for Team USA next year.

Even with him needing to develop more physically from here, he has made strides in that area.

Additionally, with Mobley’s ability to put pressure on the ball, combined with his 7-foot-4 wingspan and timing as a helper and weak side defender, he could be a defensive menace in Olympic play as well. That’s when you also factor in how there are no defensive three second rules, as KJG’s Mateo Mayorga astutely pointed out recently, involving Mobley’s prospects as a potential Team USA big and for rebounding positioning.

On the other end, Mobley would probably not have nearly the role he’s had with the Cavs, but he could still find his spots off-ball and could initiate a bit at the elbows.

As a high IQ player and incredibly fluid 4/5, Mobley has proven he impacts winning immensely.

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Perhaps at least for his stellar defense, and for added help on the glass, Evan Mobley, who will be 23 then, could have a carved out role for Team USA in the 2024 Paris Olympics.