Projected top-three pick Evan Mobley declares for 2021 NBA Draft

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Tyler Byrum
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Projected top-three pick Evan Mobley declares for NBA Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Evan Mobley, the top big-man of the 2021 NBA Draft class, will declare for the upcoming NBA Draft this July. The USC star announced his decision on Twitter Friday afternoon. 

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"LEAGUE BOUND! I’ve dreamed about turning pro since I was a kid. Come along for the journey," Mobley said in the tweet. 

Mobley enters the draft after his stellar freshman season at USC. He is the projected No. 2 overall pick in NBC Sports Washington's latest NBA Mock Draft and has been a top-five pick all year long. Much of his skill set at the PF/C position is that which fits the modern needs for a big man in the NBA game. He possesses ball-handling skills and is extremely versatile on the defensive end. Some would go as far as to describe him a 'unicorn' big man similar to Nikola Jokic, without the direct player comparison.

With a 7-foot frame, Mobley would not shy away from leading the offense and thrived in transition opportunities. By season's end, it was Mobley that became the team's most efficient player in the halfcourt. 

This past year, he was named a consensus Second Team All-American, the Pac-12's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, leading the Trojans to an appearance in the Elite Eight. His 16.4 points per game were the highest on the roster, including shooting 61.5% from two (30% from three). His 8.7 rebounds per game were also a team-high.

Offensive upside is what draw many to Mobley, especially after getting comfortable stepping out from behind the arc last year. His defense, though, is his most valuable asset. Not only can he cover players of similar stature, he can also get on the outside and shut down guards.

Mobley was just shy of three blocks a game as a freshman and as a team, the Trojans finished sixth in defensive efficiency according to KenPom. His 7-foot-4 wingspan was a huge reason why.

For most of the season, Mobley has been considered a pick from the No. 2-5 range. However, he is the biggest threat to Cade Cunningham's claim to the No. 1 pick. As the college year continued on, Mobley became more consistent at his position and took advantage of his opportunities to run an offense. Cunningham stumbled in moments, but Mobley always had an impact on the floor. 

It's not necessarily a runaway competition. Mobley, who has many of the basic fundamentals already in his game, could jump into the top selection in the pre-draft process. 

A team like the Washington Wizards could greatly utilize a big man like Mobley, if they manage to get a top pick. Mobley can fit into an up-tempo system without clogging the paint and providing some much-needed defensive rim-protection. The Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors are also lottery teams that could take advantage of a player like him.