Morning Coffee – Thu, Jun 10

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Cover Photo: Chuck Burton/Associated Press

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Why Evan Mobley is a great fit with the Raptors in the Nos. 2-4 range of the NBA Draft – The Athletic

With Mobley, the skillset expands beyond just grab-and-go. He possesses legitimate playmaking skills for a 19-year-old frontcourt player. That same easy athleticism and handle that lets him run in transition makes him a fluid offensive piece in several different scenarios. Mobley can drive and extend past other fours and fives, hit a short-roll jumper, finish inside with touch and operate out of the mid-post for others. Most notably for how the Raptors like to use their centres, Mobley is adept at playing in dribble hand-offs, where he can threaten as a passer and scorer.

And while Mobley didn’t shoot many 3s this year (12-of-40), even showing occasional range out that far is encouraging with where he is on his developmental curve. He even flashed a one-dribble pull-up. If his ability to create his own shot from the perimeter can carry over — something he has the skills for but may need to add strength and toughness to truly unleash — the offensive package is very intriguing. He has the perimeter skills of a wing with the play-type functionality of a big, which is the sort of profile that can exponentially raise the play of a lineup.

(That is not to say Mobley will make others better immediately, just that there are exponential returns to these skills within an offence. Players such as Nic Claxton have recently shown just how valuable a bit of playmaking from that position can be for entire units. Size, athleticism and vision are important floor-raising combinations, and Mobley grades very well there.)

It’s on the defensive end where Mobley really stands out. The combination of length and agility is fairly rare, with Jackson being the handiest recent comparison. Mobley possesses a 7-foot-4 wingspan and elite mobility and fluidity, using his feet and hips extremely well to cover large areas and switch actions. For a team that loves positional versatility, Mobley’s ability to switch on to guards and wings comfortably would be a plus, and he shows the feel at that end to handle the Raptors’ more aggressive schemes. (In terms of scheme and spiritual fit, Mobley is also one of the best shot-blockers away from the rim, including on jump shooters.) He has excellent timing and instincts around the rim, too, either in help and recover or acting as a deterrent in more conservative coverage. The mobility and ball-tracking make him a threat to contest shots even when recovering after a switch or hedge.

As with any prospect, there are questions with Mobley. The primary concern in his profile is that he’s only 215 pounds. He might be more of a very large wing than a true centre, at least until he can add strength. If you consider him a perimeter four rather than a legitimate big, the accounting of his offensive profile might need to shift accordingly. To continue the Jackson comparison, he’s been pushed around a fair amount so far as a pro. Boucher is another obvious, albeit more slender, comparison point.

Still, Mobley can likely handle the centre position for chunks of time and grow into a larger share of those minutes over time. His ability to play either frontcourt position should be an asset, not a detriment, especially with how comfortable the Raptors are using their frontcourt players interchangeably or playing someone like Mobley or Boucher alongside a more natural big like Birch. Similar to how “tweeners” became combo-forwards and had a positional negative turned into a positive over time, the same should be occurring with dynamic and versatile bigs who might not fit the starting five-spot for 30 minutes each night. The NBA game is not as singularly strategic as the five traditional positions outline.

The Raptors free agency top-20 big board: Who’s available and how would they fit? – The Athletic

4. John Collins, restricted
6-foot-9 | forward/centre | 24 years old | four seasons
2020-21 salary: $2.8 million
Potential method of acquisition: sign and trade or offer sheet

Collins rejected a reported four-year, $90-million offer from the Hawks before the deadline for extensions for fourth-year players, which gives you an idea of his expectations. It’s unclear whether he will be able to get a max contract — which is projected to start at $28.1 million — but that is what he is likely hoping for. Two things are working against any potential pursuit of Collins: His restricted status, which gives the Hawks matching rights, and Atlanta’s successful season, which likely nudges the front office toward keeping the band together, even ahead of Trae Young’s forthcoming max extension and decisions on some young role players to come. Expect Atlanta to keep Collins and figure the rest out later. However, Collins’ stylistic versatility on both ends would make him an appealing fit next to Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.