Georges Niang gently compares Evan Mobley to Rudy Gobert as a rim protector

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Mobley is among the favorites to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors this season, and new Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Georges Niang can see why, comparing the 22-year-old’s ability to protect the rim to that of a three-time winner of the award, Rudy Gobert.

Mobley was named All-Defensive First Team last season after he averaged 6.6 defensive rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 79 starts. He was third in Defensive Player of the Year voting behind Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Cavaliers forward is entering his third NBA season, and he’s considered by some to potentially be one of the league’s breakout players. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft out of the University of Southern California, Mobley could take on an even bigger role early in the campaign with frontcourt mate Jarrett Allen recovering from an ankle injury.

Niang joined the Cavaliers this offseason as a free agent after playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. The 30-year-old is a seven-season NBA veteran and was teammates with Gobert on the Utah Jazz from the 2017-18 season through the 2020-21 campaign.

Gobert, who is about to begin his second season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, was named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons. He has been named All-Defensive First Team six times during his 10-season NBA career.

The Cavaliers would have to be ecstatic if Mobley were to ultimately earn the same type of defensive resume as Gobert, who is also a three-time All-Star. Cleveland is also expecting more from its budding star on the offensive end this season, and that combination could make him a force within the league.

Mobley, Allen, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland form one of the most impressive foursomes in all of the NBA. Each of them was named among the top 50 players in the league in ESPN’s rankings of the top 100 players going into this season.

Due in part to offseason additions such as Niang and Max Strus, optimism is high around the Cavs entering the 2023-24 NBA season as they aim for back-to-back playoff appearances.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.