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Evan Mobley overlooked on defense by NBA GMs

Mobley did not receive a single vote for “best defender” in the league.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NBA’s annual GM survey included 50 different questions, such as who is the best player in the NBA and who is most likely to have a breakout season. When it comes to defense, not one of them voted Evan Mobley as the league’s best or most versatile defender.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was voted the best defensive player in the NBA with 40 percent of the vote. The former Defensive Player of the Year was also named the “most versatile” defender in the league. Mobley did not receive a vote in either category.

Notably, GMs were not allowed to vote for their own players:

Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 40%

2. Jrue Holiday, Boston – 13%

T-3. Draymond Green, Golden State – 10%

T-3. Marcus Smart, Memphis – 10%

T-4. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis – 7%

T-4. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers – 7%

» Also receiving votes: Alex Caruso, Chicago; Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City; Rudy Gobert, Minnesota

» Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 48%

Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 37%

2. Draymond Green, Golden State – 23%

3. Bam Adebayo, Miami – 13%

T-4. Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn – 7%

T-4. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis – 7%

» Also receiving votes: Dillon Brooks, Houston; Paul George, LA Clippers; Aaron Gordon, Denver; Marcus Smart, Memphis

» Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 41%

Putting my Cleveland bias aside, it is surprising to see Mobley excluded from both lists. He finished third in DPOY voting at 21 years of age and has the second-best odds to win the award this season — where he would become the youngest winner ever.

Objectively, Mobley is as versatile as they come, switching onto the perimeter more than most of his rim-protecting counterparts. Only Nicolas Claxton (6’11”) defended guards and contested shots in the paint at a higher rate than Mobley last season. Neither player received votes for “most versatile” defender.

Mobley did earn recognition for his efforts in the paint, listed as the seventh-best interior defender with 3% of the vote. Last year’s DPOY winner, Jaren Jackson, was ranked first. While Mobley blocked shots at a lower rate than Jackson, he was still a top-tier rim protector and committed significantly fewer fouls.

The Cavaliers finished last season with the best defense in the NBA and were top five the year before. In both seasons, Mobley served as the ultimate help defender and raised his team’s defensive ceiling to new heights due to his versatility and availability.

It isn’t worth losing much sleep over the GM survey but hopefully, being overlooked will motivate Mobley to make another leap. The Cavs, in general, were well regarded by the survey, listed as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference behind Boston and Milwaukee.