CLEVELAND — When the Cleveland Cavaliers landed the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft in last month's draft lottery, it appeared they'd be in a position to make the first surprise selection of the night.
But barring a trade up to the No. 1 pick for Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham -- which they have reportedly explored -- the Cavs enter draft week without much mystery regarding its plans. According to most prognosticators, it would be a shock if Cleveland used the No. 3 pick on Thursday night to select anyone other than USC center Evan Mobley.
The Cavs' potential selection on Mobley is, of course, contingent on the 7-foot, 210-pound center still being on the board at No. 3. To this point, all indications have been that the Detroit Pistons will use the top pick in the draft on Cunningham, while multiple reports have linked the Houston Rockets to NBA G-League Ignite guard Jalen Green.
While Cunningham and Green appeared to be the likeliest top-two picks after last month's lottery, that put Cleveland on a path to select either Mobley or Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs. But with three days to go until the draft, there has been little buzz regarding the Cavs and Suggs, with nearly every mock draft -- including ones from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, The Athletic and The Ringer forecasting Mobley to Cleveland.
Mobley also appeared as the Cavs' selection in nine of the 12 mock drafts used by NBA.com for its consensus mock draft. Although it's worth noting that the Cavs have yet to give any type of public indication they will pick, very seldomly is this type of consensus inaccurate.
"The Cavs are one of the most active teams in the league on the trade-talk front, rumored to be making overtures to acquire a second pick in the top 10 while pondering the viability of offering a rich contract extension for leading scorer Collin Sexton," ESPN's Jonathan Givony wrote of Cleveland in his latest mock draft. "It appears unlikely they'll be moving out of the No. 3 slot, with Mobley looking like the overwhelming favorite to be picked, provided Sexton isn't moved."
As for what the Cavs would be getting should it select Mobley as expected, Givony writes: "Mobley's mobility, perimeter skill and defensive versatility could very well make him both the most intriguing long-term prospect on the board as well as a strong fit to build around Cleveland's existing roster long term. He can coexist in supersized lineups with big man Jarrett Allen, while shouldering backup center minutes as his body continues to fill out."
Of course, it remains possible that the Pistons potentially trading the top pick or Houston using the No. 2 pick on Mobley could throw a wrench in what, at this point, appears inevitable. But should Mobley be unavailable at No. 3, that would likely put the Cavs in a position to draft Green, who may ultimately be a better fit for Cleveland's roster.
This time of year, NBA fans have become accustomed to expecting the unexpected. But with nearly 72 hours to go until the start of the draft, who the Cavs will choose with the No. 3 pick appears to be more of a formality than an actual mystery.