For Rockets fans, the draft is rarely a meaningful event, let alone the lottery. This year was an exception to that norm, Rockets fans intently had their eyes on this year’s lottery as it was a defining moment for the post-James Harden rebuild.
The talk surrounding this draft is all about the top four players and the serious debate of who ranks highest from 2-4, with Cade Cunningham being most people’s clear-cut number one overall pick. With that being the case, the Rockets landed in an advantageous spot, landing the #2 overall pick.
While this is an ideal position, it poises the Rockets with a tough decision as the number two pick is far from clear cut. There are two prospects that headline the talks surrounding this pick and that is Evan Mobley and Jalen Green.
These two prospects are vastly different but arguably equally valuable. A good tandem to compare these two to would be a couple players currently in the finals: Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Mobley is a defensive stalwart and Green coming from the brand of high athleticism and high-scoring two guards. So who is Houston to draft with this seemingly flip-a-coin-like decision?
The first of the two options for the Rockets is a defensive specimen with the hopes of fine-tuning his offensive game to dominate in the NBA. Mobley is touted as the prospect with the highest seeing after Cade Cunningham. So what exactly is to be expected for Mobley if he is drafted to the Rockets?
- An already elite defender
- Glimpses of a diverse offensive game
- Great rebounding
The most notable part of Mobley’s game is his defense. Mobley fluidly switches on pick and roll action, being able to comfortably defend positions one through five. His presence around the rim is undeniable, standing at seven feet with incredible timing going up against driving players, averaging 2.7 blocks a game. Mobley is one of the most defensively NBA-ready prospects we’ve seen at the top of the draft in recent memory.
Mobley looked great in the pick and roll during his time at USC. Seemingly having an already NBA-level roll game, with the ability to go to the rim or step out in the mid-range. When it comes to outside the arc Mobley wasn’t a stand-out per say, although he would attempt them and shot a respectable 30%. If Mobley continues to improve from three, he will be well on his way to being a high-end modern big man.
With his high IQ and elite timing, Mobley is likely the most well-rounded rebounder in the top five of the draft. Mobley averaged 8.7 rebounds a game and an impressive 2.7 offensive boards. game. If Mobley can continue to excel in this category, it will be his next strongest attribute next to his defense entering the NBA.
- Size/Weight concerns
- Not viewed as NBA ready as Green
- Post game
Similar to Green, the build of Mobley is a concern. Mobley weighs in at just 215 pounds and this is relatively small for a seven-footer. The lack of size could impact his defensive ability at the next level, as well as his ability to function around the post. If Mobley can properly put on some weight, it will make the transition easier to the NBA, which has been the case for many prospects.
If the Rockets were to take Mobley over Green, one sentiment around the league would be that their pick is more of a building project. While Mobley played at a high level in college, the fact Green has played in the G League is weighed heavily by scouts.
The one thing that is missing from Mobley offensive game is a strong post offense. A lot of this issue has to do with the aforementioned weight concern. The issue with this is, this will become an even bigger issue going into the NBA. If Mobley does not develop the weight or finesse to move in the post, it could drastically impact his progression in the NBA.
- Already elite scorer
- G League play/experience
- Could play both guard spots
The most developed aspect of Green’s game is his ability to score at all three levels. Green shot 46.1% from the field, averaged 36.6% on 5.7 threes a game and 52.9% on two-point attempts. Green can not only get his shot off from anywhere, he does it efficiently.
One thing Green has that’s unique among prospects in the last few years is a plethora of high-level experience. Green played on the G League Ignite team which is a team formed of NBA prospects who play against the NBA g league teams. His ability to excel at a high level in this league gives more certainty regarding his readiness for the NBA (as far as execs are concerned).
While Green primarily plays at the two spot, he showed flashes of being able to run the offense on the Ignite team. Holding a 23.4% usage rate and averaging just under 3 assists, Green showed flashes in the pick in roll and setting up the offense. While he will likely play most of his career as a scoring two-guard, knowing he can take some minutes at the one is comforting.
- Defensive insufficiencies
In contrast to Mobley, Jalen Greens’ biggest weakness is likely his defense, as is usually the case with this build of player (a scoring two-guard). Some people would argue that to be a top player in today’s NBA, defense is not something you need to excel at. With that being said, Green still has work to do on the defensive end and this goes in conjunction with the next con: Greens size.
The issue of Green’s size partially goes hand-in-hand with his defensive issues. Green weights around 180 pounds and stands rather tall for his position at 6’6. This results in a slimmer player and concerns of wear, and tear at the next level are present. As mentioned before, the issue of size plays into Green’s ability to defend bigger players at the next level.
While Green has shown flashes in almost every aspect of his offensive game, he at times is hot and cold. While he showed the ability to run the offense and get his teammates involved, he also averaged 2.7 turnovers a game. In addition, he shot well overall but saw himself go through slumps as a shooter in the G League, having two games going 0-7 from deep.
Who to Draft?
If Houston is looking to go the safe route, the likely pick will be Green. While Mobley likely could end up having a higher ceiling, the path for Green reaching his ceiling seems clearer. The Rockets have a good problem on their hands, they get to pick from two blue-chip prospects who both will likely contribute heavily for years to come.
Final Pick Prediction: Evan Mobley
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