Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Draft: Jalen Green vs. Evan Mobley
It’s official, the Cleveland Cavaliers have broken their streak of bad luck and moved
up in the NBA Draft Lottery for the first time since 2014. They’ve earned the No. 3 overall pick and consequently have an interesting dilemma on their hands.
Who do they pick?
The truth is, this draft is loaded with potential stars. Names like Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley have ‘superstar’ written all over them.
Even Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Kuminga, who are expected to be picked in the
top-five, have high ceilings at the NBA level.
The Cavs can move on from wishing for Cunningham as he’s all but signed to the
Detroit Pistons at this point. After Cade, who should Cleveland be targeting?
It’s likely they settle for whoever the Houston Rockets don’t pick out of Mobley
and Green -- but who are the Cavaliers secretly hoping for? If the Rockets
shock us and choose someone else at No. 2, how does the front office decide who
is the best remaining option?
While this is obviously an issue the Cavs are happy to have -- it doesn’t make buckling down on a decision any easier. Mobley and Green both pose a great value to this rebuilding team. And, with a month to go before the NBA Draft even takes place, the fan base is already split on who they want. Team Mobley and Team Green are digging deep into their positions.
Mobely vs. Green
Today, I am hoping to make the debate a little more clear for both sides of the
spectrum. We’ll break down the pros and cons of both Mobley and Green before
coming to a conclusion on where I personally stand on the matter.
An internal war will be started the moment the Cleveland Cavaliers announce they
are selecting Jalen Green. Almost instantly, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Green will be pitted against each other. Truthfully, this hypothetical battle is already taking place for most fans.
The general consensus is that three ball-dominant guards can’t play together. It
certainly doesn’t help that two of the three stand at just 6-foot-1-inches. Therefore, if the Cavs pick Green, it must mean someone is on the way out, right?
The Cavaliers struggled offensively when either Sexton or Garland was on the bench.
Their Offensive Rating dipped (about -2.0) when at least one of them was off
the court. The team was even worse without either members of SexLand, with most
five-man lineups posting Offensive Ratings below 100 in their absence.
For all of the criticism Garland and Sexton have received for not being good enough
playmakers -- they serve as the only real creators this team has. The offense
is incredibly weak without them on the floor.
As a result, it’s pretty easy to see how adding an electric shot creator like Green to the mix alleviates Cleveland of one of their biggest problems. Tossing in Green and trading one of Garland/Sexton doesn’t do anything other than keep the Cavs in the same lackluster position they are already in.
Wait. You Really Don't Have To Trade SexLand?
Rather, drafting Green should spark a good old-fashioned competition between the guards on the roster. Want to remain in the starting lineup? Prove it. It’s as simple as letting Sexton/Garland/Green earn their own minutes and adjusting the rotations as needed.
If this is the case, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Green forces his way into the starting five sooner, rather than later. He already has experience against professional competition as he averaged 17.9 points in the NBA G-League. He posted impressive shooting splits of 46/37/83 considering the high volume he was shooting at.
Green has an easy route to success as a scorer due to his top-notch athleticism, silky smooth jumper and fluid ball handling. With just a bit of development, he’s going to be an all-around threat that is nearly impossible to stop. Though he doesn’t fix any of their defensive woes, he does fill their need for another ball handler.
Overall, Green provides the Cavaliers with an injection of offense that they are desperately needing. After all, they ranked dead last in points per game last season.
While yes, his presence might make things awkward in the backcourt, he could also spur some healthy competition between the three guards. In the best case scenario, they all learn how to play together. At worst, someone gets outshined and moved to the bench or traded for other assets.
Nonetheless, Green’s future as an offensive superstar is hard to ignore. It should also be noted that he already stands at 6-foot-5 and could grow a bit more as he only just
turned 19 years old -- giving him a size advantage over both members of SexLand.
Now it’s time to talk about the seven-foot freak of nature that has scouts turning
their heads. It’s not every day a player of Mobley’s size, athleticism and agility enters the NBA Draft. It is even more rare that that very same center flashes skills of ball handling, playmaking and 3-point shooting in his freshman year of college. Mobley is an exciting prospect, to say the least.
At USC, Mobley posted 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.4 assists per game. He shot nearly 60 percent from the field and flashed potential as a floor spacer, drilling 12 total 3-pointers and hitting a respectable 69.4 percent of his free throw attempts. Though there is concern about him being a reliable shooter in the future, his free throw percentage is a good indicator that he can become an outside threat.
Most of all, it’s Mobley’s physical attributes that make him a marvel. He’s a true seven-footer with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He displayed good defensive instincts as a
rim protector and held his own on the perimeter in college. Combine this with
his impressive ball handling skills for a big and he’s exactly what a modern superstar center looks like.
For these reasons, Mobley has become the de facto pick for many Cavaliers’ fans. In
addition to being the easier fit, he’s also arguably just as talented, if not more, than Jalen Green.
How Would Mobley Fit?
However, Mobley’s fit isn’t exactly as seamless as you think. We are taking some major liberties in assuming he’ll round out to a good enough floor-spacer and defender to play the four next to Jarrett Allen. You’d be hard pressed to find a successful NBA team today that plays two non-shooting bigs next to each other.
It’s easy to deflect that point and suggest simply moving Allen to the bench -- but
Allen is also reportedly set to sign a $100 million dollar contract extension. That doesn’t sound like ‘backup center’ money to me.
In order to make this work, Mobley has to actually turn into everything he is projected to be. As of now, he might be a liability at the four to defend smaller, quicker players. And, he isn’t a good enough shooter to justify playing him next to Allen, who shot 31.6 percent from deep last season.
Even so, Mobley has such an astronomical ceiling that it's worth taking the risk. At
his best, he turns into a hyper-versatile seven-footer who can do anything asked of him. If that means bumping Allen to the bench or trading him, so be it.
So... Who Should They Take?!
So, if you have read all of this and have been patiently waiting to hear who I want
the Cavs to draft… I’m sorry to disappoint you.
My take is, the Cavaliers should be happy with either one of these prospects. The only way I’d be upset is if Cleveland somehow ended up with neither Mobley or Green, which seems unlikely.
Really, we should all just be grateful the Cavs have a 50/50 shot of drafting a future
star. What more could you really ask for at this point? Both come with their flaws but either way, the Cavaliers are walking away from this draft as winners.
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