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NBA Draft Scouting: Evan Mobley

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Mobley has been a prodigy for USC this season

USC v Gonzaga Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Physicals:

Weight - 210 lb

Height - 7’0

Wingspan - 7’4

Evan Mobley is one of the top prospects in this draft class and it is easy to see why Mobley is so highly regarded when you watch his film. Mobley is fluid, athletic big who can impact a team’s defense in numerous ways who can also create off the dribble. Mobley’s ability to handle the ball and makes plays for his teammates fits the mould of the modern NBA center.

In the last few years, we have seen centres such as Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Bam Adebayo ascend into being excellent, valuable players for title contending teams. A big man who has guard skills is a match-up nightmare for most teams.

At this moment in time, the Thunder have two centers on the roster who project to be low-usage, high-efficiency options. At a best case scenario, Moses Brown’s role on the Thunder could be similar to DeAndre Jordan; a big who rebounds the ball, plays hard defense and finishes off looks inside three feet. Mobley is different prospect all together. A center who can get his own shot and dribble will add so many options to the Thunder’s offense.

Mobley is projected to go either 2nd or 3rd by quite a few mock drafts. I do not think that Detroit will take Mobley if they get the 2nd pick; the Pistons have a glaring need at point guard and Jalen Suggs is arguably the second best point guard in this Draft behind Cade.

It is probable that Orlando will take a long, hard look at taking Mobley with the 3rd pick. The Magic currently have Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr and Chuma Okeke at the center spot. None of these options really make sense as a long-term solution at center for Orlando. The Magic are starting a painful rebuild and will want to load up on talent.

Cleveland does not factor in the Mobley discussion. The Cavs acquired Jarrett Allen in the Harden trade and are expected to sign Allen to a four-year $100m contract. Taking Mobley in the Draft would make very little sense for the Cavs.

Providing that Orlando does not get Mobley at 2nd or 3rd pick, Mobley is the best player available at 5 for the Thunder. It might honestly make sense for the Thunder to work out a package to get the 3rd or 2nd pick if the ping pong balls do not fall the Thunder’s way. The Thunder’s 2021 Pick, a future pick and a young player such as Darius Bazley would be a feasible package.

Mobley’s strong play was influential in leading USC to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2001. Mobley was impressive all season long and his best game arguably came against Colorado in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament.

Mobley’s well-rounded play can be seen in his numbers; Mobley averaged 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks per game. He was impactful as a scorer, passer and as a defensive force in the interior. Mobley’s scoring is the least developed part of his game and he was still hyper efficient from the field. He had a true-shooting percentage of 62.4% for the season.

Mobley’s outside shot is a work in progress which meant that Mobley took the majority of his shots below the 3-point arc. His jumper generally looks mechanically sound from the film that I have seen. His elbows stay tight and do not splay out when he shoots the ball. Mobley’s follow through is textbook; he snaps the wrist perfectly after he releases the ball.

Mobley looks comfortable draining shots from mid-range which suggests that there is scope for Mobley to take a few steps back and embrace the outside shot. Mobley will likely need to develop strength in his arms to make controlled, comfortable shots from deep but I am encouraged from what I have seen.

Mobley’s strongest skill at the moment is his defense. Mobley is a lengthy athlete who glides across the court. He is able to cover so much distance quickly which means that he is effective guarding on the perimeter. Mobley does not get roasted whenever he faces a smaller, faster guard. He uses his length adeptly to contain the smaller player and prevent the drive.

Mobley is not simply an athlete; his game intelligence is very strong. In his time at USC, Evan Mobley has shown a good understanding of team defense especially on the perimeter. Mobley understands that his role is to create time for his teammate to close the distance and reduce the separation available to the attacking team.

Evan does not get over-aggressive and positions himself to discourage the drive. Mobley’s smarts on defense are also noticeable closer to the rim. He was very good at making rotations from the weak-side and timing his blocks. Mobley avoids the tendency of jumping at everything and almost seems to wait on the blocking opportunity to arise.

The last aspect of his defense that I was impressed with was Mobley’s rim protection. Evan Mobley is very athletic but he does not seem to rely on his athleticism when protecting the rim. He uses his feet to direct traffic and forces the driving player into high-difficulty finishes around the rim.

Evan Mobley is also a capable, reliable shot creator. When I watched USC’s game against Colorado, the first thing that popped into my mind was that Evan Mobley had legitimate guard skills. Mobley was more than happy taking guys off the dribble and finishing at the rim with a layup or a dunk. He had control of his dribble and was very good at using his long strides to get past the defense for a shot in the lane.

I do not expect Evan Mobley to be a center in the mould of Nikola Jokic. Jokic’s passing vision and ability to manufacture baskets out of thin air is unparalleled. However, it is entirely feasible that Evan Mobley could play a similar role to the role that Bam Adebayo fills for the Heat at the moment.

Coach Erik Spolestra runs a motion-offense where the big gets a lot of opportunities to handle the ball. The split action often means that Bam gets the ball at the elbow and can freelance the offense. Miami’s movement always means that he has a good passing option whether this may be Tyler Herro or Trevor Ariza.

The Thunder’s motion offense has involved the center quite a lot over the last two years. Steve Adams benefitted greatly from the hand-offs ran for him at the top of the arc. Adams posted a career high in assists and worked out a nice high-low game with Danilo Gallinari. Al Horford has been used in a similar sort of way by Coach Daigneault.

Coach Daigneault will create a role for Mobley where he can show off his passing game; he has done so for nearly every young Thunder player this season.

Evan Mobley is one of the best players in the Draft. He is a versatile, two-way center whose skills directly translate to the modern NBA. Mobley will be a strong pick for the Thunder who can elevate the team’s defense and provide even more creativity to a Thunder team that should be very good at moving the ball next season.