The Cleveland Cavaliers got another piece on Thursday night that could help bring this franchise back to prominence. Cleveland grabbed forward/center Evan Mobley out of USC with the third overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
In his lone collegiate season at USC in 2020-21, the 20-year-old Mobley (7-0, 215) led the Trojans (25-8) to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 2001 and started in all 33 games, averaging 16.4 points on 58% shooting from the field, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.9 blocks in 33.9 minutes.
He was named the 2020-21 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year. He became just the second player from a major conference to win all three awards in a single season (Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, 2011-12).
“I’m just here to be the best player, best person I can be at the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Mobley said via Zoom after getting drafted. “I’m here to show what I have, hopefully, be Rookie of the Year, Rookie of the Month as many times as I can. That’s what I’m trying to bring to the team.”
Mobley is expected to play alongside restricted free agent center Jarrett Allen, who the Cavs expect to re-sign this offseason. Mobley believes that he and Allen can be very effective together.
“Jarrett Allen is a great player,” he said. “I feel like I can learn a lot from him. He’s been in the league for a while, so me and him, I feel like we can definitely do damage in the league in this coming season.”
With his size, athleticism, and versatility, some have compared Mobley to Chris Bosh, Anthony Davis, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo, but according to Mobley, he’s going to be himself.
“A lot of people have been comparing me to Chris Bosh, Anthony Davis, Giannis, players like that,” Mobley said. “I definitely just see a good amount of similarities between all of those players. But I feel like I’m my own player, and I have my own tendencies, which makes me unique.”
It should be interesting to see what Cleveland does next. They appear to have a logjam at the four and five spots with Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Mobley, and Allen. In addition, they’re rumors that Collin Sexton could be on the move, so this roster might look a little different when the season starts.
Cleveland did make one move on draft night. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, the Cavs will trade Taurean Prince to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio, a 2022 second-round pick and cash. The move gives Cleveland a solid backup point guard.