If you think that Jarrett Allen proved to be a good fit with the Cleveland Cavaliers as soon as he was traded from the Nets, you're not alone. It was fairly evident immediately, with Allen recording a double-double in his first game — a 12-point win over his former team — and showing that he deserved the starting gig sooner rather than later. All in all, he averaged 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game on 60.9 percent shooting in his 51-game sample with Cleveland, a strong performance for a player on a team that didn't have all that many bright spots last year.
For that reason, along with the fact that he's due for a big contract extension, it might seem like the Cavs have found their big man of the future. But an even more intriguing big man of the future will likely be available when Koby Altman is on the clock with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and the Cavs aren't alone in their intrigue over who might be the best prospect of the whole class.
It's USC's Evan Mobley that we're discussing here, the tantalizing 7-footer who showed flashes of a dominant, all-around big in today's NBA throughout his NCAA career. And according to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, rival teams aren't shy about showing their interest in the Cavs' position on the draft board.
"All indications are that Jalen Green is the favorite to go to No. 2 [to the Rockets] which would mean Evan Mobley would slide to No. 3," Kevin O'Connor said on "The Mismatch" podcast. "...I reported this morning on The Ringer that the Raptors and Magic, the two teams drafting right behind them, had made trade offers to Cleveland for the No. 3 pick and they're not the only teams that have had conversations with Cleveland.
"So we'll see what happens over the next week ahead of the draft, but ultimately Cleveland is in a real interesting position here to move down if they don't want Mobley. There's a possibility that maybe they flip Sexton elsewhere and then move down and get Suggs or somebody else, so we'll see what happens here, but there are teams that absolutely love Evan Mobley and they want to move up to get him."
But would the Cavaliers have any real interest in moving out of that premium draft slot and having the chance to select a big who has been compared to such greats as Chris Bosh and a faster, more agile LaMarcus Aldridge? By the way, there are 18 All-Star selections and six All-NBA honors between those two names... just saying. It could come down to a matter of fit, and O'Connor doesn't think that's too much of an issue.
"It can work, because with Jarrett Allen you have the rim-running, the rim protection, interior player whereas, with Mobley, he can be both," O'Connor explained. "He can play interior if he needs to, but primarily you want Mobley to develop into a guy who can be an offensive hub for you. The playmaking that Mobley showed at USC is more than what the numbers indicate. He's a really, really, really good passer for a big and factor in his ability off the dribble, his shooting potential, his flexibility to switch onto the perimeter against guards and wings... yeah, they could definitely work with Allen and Mobley together in the front court. Or, you could play just one of them, so I think that lineup flexibility would be great for the Cavaliers."
Our Audacy NBA experts and insiders have the Cavaliers sticking with their pick and taking Mobley at No. 3. The 20-year-old averaged 16.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.4 assists in his lone campaign with the Trojans.