2021 NBA Draft Scouting Reports: Evan Mobley
In this series, I will be looking at some of the top prospects for the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft. I will also be posting draft rankings eventually. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I always enjoy talking basketball.
- Position: PF/C
- Height: 7'0"
- Weight: 210
- Team: USC
- Year: Freshman
- Wingspan: 7’5"
- Stats: 19 Games, 16.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 59.2% FG, 30.1 3PT%, 70.9% FT, 0.8 SPG, 2.9 BPG, 2.3 TOPG.
After scouting both Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs, the elite-tier prospects of the 2021 NBA Draft conclude with USC big man Evan Mobley. Expectations have been sky-high for the 7-footer since the beginning of his high school career, yet he continues to soar past them season after season. Through 19 games as a USC Trojan, Mobley has been a force on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Mobley is capable of scoring anywhere on the court. He shows a lot of Chris Bosh in his game in terms of how fluid he is moving with the basketball. He does an excellent job of sizing up defenders off the dribble and has great touch inside the paint. He is most effective when shooting floaters and hooks in the key and has tremendous feel on the block.
Mobley is shooting 63.1 percent on 8.8 2-point attempts a game this season. He has also knocked down 68 of his 88 attempts this year at the rim. Big men with limited mobility will have a difficult time trying to contain Mobley when he has space to operate. Mobley will be quicker and more nimble than most centers in the NBA, which will allow him to utilize his spin moves and jab steps to get to the bucket for easy looks.
While it hasn’t been his strongest area offensively, Mobley has still showcased the ability to knock down jump shots from outside the paint. The small sample size of 30.4 percent from deep on 1.2 attempts a game (7 of 23 total) isn’t eye-popping, but he still has good form as well as good shooting touch from the outside.
As shown in the last clip, even when Mobley isn’t shooting, he demands enough respect from the outside to draw defenders out to him. If the defense shows a poor closeout, Mobley can then use his wide arsenal of pump fakes and other dribble moves to beat his matchup to the basket.
Mobley was a guard in middle school before hitting a major growth spurt, and it shows in his game. His playmaking is outstanding for a big man. He does a great job of reading defenses and is consistently able to find the open man. His assist numbers, which don’t stand out, are more of a byproduct of the lack of shooting surrounding him.
Given that USC is a defensive-oriented team that doesn’t take or make a lot of triples, its more difficult for Mobley to rack up assists. Regardless, Mobley has been very effective as a passer out of the pick-and-roll and in the post. Mobley has consistently shredded double teams this year with sharp passes to the weakside to open shooters. He can create from the perimeter or the post and oozes with point forward potential.
Defensively, Mobley may be the most impactful player college basketball has witnessed since Anthony Davis. He has an absurd block percentage of 9.1 and swats just under three shots a game.
Mobley has all the tools to be an elite defender in the NBA. His length, athleticism, speed, awareness and footwork are all advanced for a player his age. In the modern era of basketball where it is imperative that big men can defend the pick-and-roll and step outside the paint, Mobley checks all the boxes. He alters perimeter shooters as much as he does shots on the interior.
USC ranks sixth in the country in opponents field goal percentage at 38.1 percent, largely thanks to Mobley’s ability to protect the paint. Another thing to note is that Mobley averages just two fouls per game. He doesn’t bite on many pump fakes and keep himself out of foul trouble thanks to his good discipline on the defensive end.
As an athlete, Mobley moves as swiftly as any big man in basketball can. He has above average speed, quickness and lateral mobility. He doesn’t have elite bounce, but is still a lob threat.
Two things that Mobley must improve at the next level are his aggressiveness and strength. Mobley often shies away from contact and is scoring in the 15th percentile at the rim this season. This isn’t as important in today’s NBA with back-to-the-basket centers fading away fast, but it is concerning in terms of how well Mobley’s finishing will translate to the NBA. He also isn’t a strong screen setter which could be problematic given how frequently NBA teams run pick-and-rolls.
Mobley is an excellent defender, but it will be interesting to see how he holds up against much bigger centers in the NBA. The toughest matchup for Mobley this season before the NCAA Tournament from both a physical and talent standpoint will be Stanford’s Oscar da Silva. With all due respect to da Silva, he’s nowhere near as strong as players like Joel Embiid, Steven Adams and Zion Williamson. If Mobley wants to stick around in the league, he needs to add muscle to his frame.
The other concern for Mobley is shooting. I project him to be a mid-30 percent 3-point shooter at the next level, but there’s still work that needs done with his jumper. The fact that he hasn’t had much shooting volume to this point is a bit concerning and shows that he’s still not a fully confident shooter. He’s shooting 70.9 percent from the line on nearly six attempts a game, which shows that the foundation is there.
Mobley is a consistent jumpshot and about 20 to 30 pounds away from being the first overall pick in this draft. He is still a surefire top-three selection and has arguably the highest potential of any big man to come out of college in the last five years.
Mobley will need a few years, like most prospects, to get acclimated to the league. How he adjusts will be dependent on the situation he’s in. The ideal situation for Mobley would be to play next to another stretch big so that the USC product can play the four. He can avoid being bumped frequently right away while refining his jumper.
Mobley will have a better situation in the NBA compared to USC no matter what team he goes to. It may take a few years for everything to come together, but a player of Mobley’s caliber is worth the wait. He has the tools to be a great player for many years to come. If he puts on muscle and increases his confidence as a scorer, he will be a major threat in the NBA for many years.