Cavaliers' Evan Mobley Enters Health and Safety Protocols

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 18, 2021

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 11: Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers playa against the Sacramento Kings during the second half at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on December 11, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Kings 117-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
Ron Schwane/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers announced Saturday that rookie center Evan Mobley entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

As a result, Mobley will miss Saturday's game between the Cavs and Milwaukee Bucks.

Mobley, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft out of USC, is the likely front-runner for NBA Rookie of the Year honors so far this season.

In 25 games this season, all of which he has started, the 7-footer is averaging 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 blocks. He is also shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Mobley was already questionable for Saturday's game with a hip injury after sitting out Wednesday's win over the Houston Rockets.

While being without a player of Mobley's skill level hurts, the Cavs are well-equipped to deal with one of their bigs being out.

Mobley's absence means head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is likely to lean heavily on center Jarrett Allen and forward Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt.

Allen is enjoying a career year with 16.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, while Markkanen is putting up 14.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 three-pointers made per contest.

Veteran Kevin Love has also been a key big for the Cavs this season with 12.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 three-pointers made per game, and he figures to see increased minutes.

The Cavaliers will also look for production out of their guards and wings, including Darius Garland, Ricky Rubio and Cedi Osman.

Cleveland has not reached the playoffs since 2018, which was LeBron James' final season with the team and marked the Cavs' fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers have been among the NBA's most pleasant surprises this season, though, as they are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference at 18-12.

They will face some stiff competition in the form of the reigning NBA champions on Saturday, but if Giannis Antetokounmpo is forced to sit again due to health and safety protocols, the Cavaliers have a solid chance to win even without Mobley.