The Houston Rockets have the second pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. This is their chance to jump-start the rebuilding process by getting not just a talented prospect, but someone who could fit right into their system. Among the top prospects of the 2021 Draft class, USC center Evan Mobley seems the perfect player for the Rockets.
The 20-year-old stands 7-feet and boasts of a 7-foot-4 wingspan — athletic gifts he’s been blessed with and has effectively utilized throughout his young career. If the Rockets do it right, then Mobley will not just be a mere important piece, but their franchise player over the next several years.
Why Evan Mobley is the Rockets’ perfect match
Modern-Day Big Man Duo With Christian Wood
Though the Houston Rockets have five-time All-Star John Wall in the fold, we can’t really consider him the front and center of the franchise, at least over the next 2-3 seasons. The guard did pretty well in his first season back. But Rockets fans themselves know that the future of the franchise is Christian Wood — the undrafted 6-foot-10 forward/center who suddenly came out the gates with a vengeance.
This is where Evan Mobley can enter. His defense is what stands out the most, a matter which will be discussed later on. But looking at just at how he moves and what he brings to the floor: his mobility, the bounce in his step, his length — these are all the things that got NBA scouts salivating. These are the elements that a modern-day big man has.
If the Rockets do a good job at developing Mobley, then they’ll likely have one of the deadliest modern-day big men duo in the league. Imagine two seven-footers running a two-man game over their shorter foes. It would be a treat to watch but a horrible experience for the rest of the league.
Evan Mobley averaged 2.9 blocks last season which led the nation. This is not just a direct cause of his height and massive wingspan. Highlight clips show his impeccable timing and great defensive instincts. It’s a luxury to have a defensive specialist in your team nowadays. The Rockets have the opportunity to get one right from the draft.
And Mobley is not just your old-school rim protector like Dikembe Mutombo. Mobley’s mobility and relative lateral quickness would make it foolish for opposing teams to switch him to quicker guards. He can stay in front of them and eventually swat their weak lay-ups. We always hear the adage: defense wins championships. This is a combination of coaching and having the right set of players. Mobley has that defensive gift already in him. Among rebuilding teams, the Rockets will already be a step ahead to being a contender if they pick Mobley.
Lots of Room to Grow On Offense
Mobley’s offensive package consists of dunks and lay-ups thru pick-and-rolls, jump shots through pick-and-pops, or through quick drives to the hoop. Though he shot 57.8 percent from the field, he also shot 30.0 percent from downtown which is a cause of concern among analysts. In today’s NBA, big men should have that smooth stroke in their arsenal. Mobley, too, doesn’t have a refined set of post-up moves.
However, we have to remember that teams pick up prospects with the most potential and not necessarily those with a complete offensive or defensive package already. There’s a good reason why Evan Mobley’s draft stock is way up there in there among the top five. He has inherent athletic gifts that need a little jump start to fully bloom.