The Rockets will live to regret passing on Evan Mobley in the NBA Draft
The Houston Rockets got Jalen Green as their second pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. While there’s no denying the young gun’s talents, he may not be the player the Rockets need at this point in the rebuilding process. Evan Mobley, who went to the Cleveland Cavaliers as the third overall pick, maybe the player they need. Unfortunately, they failed to capitalize on the opportunity and they may live to regret this choice for a long time.
It’s well-documented that Mobley is the best defender in the 2021 draft class. He led the nation last season with 2.9 blocks per game. What’s good about him is that he isn’t your traditional center who’s gifted with impeccable timing and great defensive instincts. He isn’t just the team’s last line of defense. Rather, he can actively switch on to smaller guards with no problem.
This makes him the better option for the Rockets. After all, the team ranked 27th in defense last season with a 114.4 rating. This is understandable since the Rockets are a rebuilding team in search of an identity. Besides, defense starts from the coaching staff whose job is to come up with schemes then relay them to their players.
NBA fans are familiar with average players who have turned into decent defenders. Mobley doesn’t fit this description as defense seems to come naturally to him. And this is what the Rockets just missed. They had a chance to snag a naturally excellent defender from the draft — something that doesn’t come often.
If the Rockets picked Evan Mobley, they would’ve had the scary Twin Tower Duo featuring him and Christian Wood. Wood has significantly grown as a player on offense. His defense still needs work but given his hunger for knowledge, we do not have any worry about this that much.
Besides, height and length are usually seen as advantages in a sport like basketball. The logic is simple: the ring stands 10 feet and the closer you are to 10 feet, then the easier it will be to score (at least by theory). And on defense, longer players cloud passing lanes and deflect passes with ease.
Sometimes we see other teams counter big-boy lineups withs smaller lineups with the hopes of outrunning them. If the Rockets would’ve picked Mobley, then fielding such small lineups will be deemed a foolish move. Mobley, as noted, has enough lateral quickness to stay in front of guards. This would’ve made the Rockets a team with almost no weakness.
John Wall’s Running Mate
While Christian Wood may be the future of the Rockets, we cannot ignore the fact that John Wall is still with the team. As such, most of the team’s offense will involve him, be it halfcourt sets or fastbreak opportunities. Given Wall’s versatility on offense, Mobley may be the ideal big-man teammate for him.
As noted, Evan Mobley isn’t just a traditional big man who camps inside the paint. He’s athletic, is quicker than most seven-footers, and has very good hands. If head coach Stephen Silas wants to slow things down thru half-court sets, Mobley is the perfect player. Pick-and-rolls will be their bread and butter.
Also, Wall has not slowed down a bit despite missing some significant time. Last season with the Rockets, fans saw him run the ball and still outpace other guards. Mobley would have no problem running with Wall. And we’re not just talking about a Wall-to-Mobley connection. Mobley himself has good enough handles to lead the break and dish it off.