Knicks Nation Prospect Spotlight - Evan Mobley
I recently listened to "The Bill Simmons Podcast" with Kevin O'Connor, where they discuss "unicorns" in the realm of basketball. Not only is it a great listen for avid basketball fans, but Simmons confirms what many Knicks fans have known for a while about Porzingis. I'll let him fill you in on that one so you can't shoot the messenger. It got me thinking, with what prospect in this upcoming draft should I kick-off this series? Well, to answer that question, it's the guy I feel has the best chance of turning into a basketball unicorn at the next level, Evan Mobley from the University of Southern California.
Before Cade Cunningham, there was Evan Mobley. Long thought of as the number one prospect in his class, he sure looked the part before what many considered a down senior season of high-school. Standing at 7'0" tall with an estimated wing-span of 7'5", you can already see the potential for being a one-of-a-kind prospect. Many have come before him, but not many with quite the fluidity and shot-making potential that this kid possesses.
Fluid is the perfect word for him. With excellent body control and great handles, the 7-footer doesn't often look like a big man on the court (except for the towering height). He has a fantastic game perfect for the modern NBA, and while his shooting numbers don't exactly pop, there's a lot to be excited about. He's not afraid to bring the ball up the court and attacks the rim quite often; heck, he even threw some oops in one of the highlight reels I watched (While I typically like watching full game film, you can get a nice idea on potential watching some highlights too).
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Let's start with his free-throw numbers, often the most apparent indicator of potential shooting success at the highest level. While he's shooting 58% from the field and 30% from the three-point line, Mobley shoots a solid 72.4% from the charity stripe. While that alone isn't enough to write home about, he has had extremely encouraging nights.
Evan has had games where he went 9-11, 12-15, 8-9, and more recently, 7-7 from the line. There certainly is room for improvement even at the college level, but he's had some fantastic games showing the shooting touch is there. While it's tough to judge based on shooting form alone, he also has a nice fluid motion for a guy with his height.
Oh, and check out his early season highlights courtesy of one of my favorite Youtube channels for prospect highlights (the good stuff), "Swish."
He does a lot else, too. Given his length, it's easy to see him averaging nine rebounds a game at USC. One statistic I would expect to be a little higher after watching some tape is his assist numbers. Evan is averaging just under 2 per game, but I feel that with spacing and some shooters and or slashers around him, he may increase that when he makes the jump.
His defense is as strong as you'd expect from someone with his size and reach. Mobley is averaging just under one steal and three blocks per game, something he can easily carry with him to the next level. His frame isn't ideal, given he's a bit thin, but he won't be relegated to the bench because of it like Bol-Bol in Denver. Evan still has room to produce a solid frame at the NBA-level, or at least solid-enough.
A comparison I've seen tossed around some is Chris Bosh. While it's a reach to compare a guy one year removed from high-school to an 11-time all-star, he certainly seems Bosh-like. I can see both playing a very similar game on the offensive side of the ball, but, at least eventually, Mobley may bring more in terms of rim protection. While it's tough to compare the two, given one hasn't played a single game in the NBA, it's something to keep an eye on.
Some may question where Mobley plays in the NBA. While some see him as a power-forward, I see him giving a team enough defense right away to play as a stretch-five. With his ability to protect the rim, handle the ball, make plays, and shoot, he could be a perfect fit for a team looking to secure a do-it-all big. Would he fit on the Knicks? While Mitchell Robinson has shown flashes in the past, Mobley immediately brings a dimension not yet seen (in an actual NBA game) from Mitch.
While I wouldn't advocate for getting rid of Mitch (I can't say this enough), if that were to happen and the Knicks want a replacement, Mobley would be a perfect match. It's hard to imagine him falling out of the top 3, though, so if the Knicks want him, they better be prepared to give up some assets to get the job done. Don't dream too big on this one, Knicks fans, but I recommend keeping track of this kid. He sure is special.