Mornings are better when you know the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing later that evening.
The first sip
Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro have been selected for the Rising Stars game later this month. It’s nice to see both players recognized for the work they’ve put in this season.
Mobley was a no-brainer. He’s been the consensus best rookie all season as he’s currently 3rd among rookies in points (14.8), 1st in rebounds (8.1), 7th in assists (2.6), 1st in blocks (1.7) and 1st in field goal percentage (50.5%).
His versatility on the defensive end is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen from a rookie. The Cavs are allowing just 102.7 points per 100 possession when Mobley is on the floor. Furthermore the rookie is 6th in the league in blocks and 3rd in contested shots per game (12.5). Advanced defensive metrics love him as Mobley ranks 6th in defensive LEBRON, 7th in defensive win shares and 15th in defensive box plus/minus.
Mobley has been good offensively even though he isn’t nearly as polished on that end. He hasn’t been able to consistently find his jumper but he’s still been efficient as he’s finishing a solid 71% of his shots at the rim. He’s shown flashes as a playmaker and ball handler many times this season and seems poised to take a leap in both categories in the near future.
Okoro has steadily improved on both ends. His offense isn’t flashy but he’s done a great job of attacking the basket both in transition and in the half court. Okoro is shooting 66% at the rim this season compared to the 58% he shot last. He is also drawing shooting fouls on 14.7% of his shot attempts (95th percentile for wings). The outside shot remains very much a work in progress but he has still upped his effective field goal percentage from 47.6% last season to 52.2% this season mostly because of his improved efficiency at the rim.
Okoro has shined on the defensive end once again. He’s been the Cavs best on ball defender and has been forced to guard the opponent’s best perimeter player all season. The Cavs are not the great defensive team they are now without the steady point of attack defense Okoro provides.
The Cavs find themselves one and a half games out of the top spot in the East thanks in part to the play of Mobley and Okoro. They have both impacted winning on the defensive end in a way that is uncommon for players their age. It’s nice to see them get rewarded for their outstanding play.
Hopefully these won’t be the only Cavaliers taking part in All-Star weekend.
The second sip
Collin Sexton is not only back with the team on the bench and at Charge games but he’s also traveling with the team on road trips now.
February 1, 2022
Typically injured players don’t travel on road trips unless they are somewhat close to returning to action. I’m not saying Collin is. This could easily be an exception to the rule. Either way it’s a good sign and something you love to see!
The most undeserving all-stars in NBA history, by the numbers
Links of the day
LeBron James: ‘That’s why I’m never going to New York’
Do the Spurs need a star to become relevant again?
Limitations of NBA salary cap balance
NBA includes players from G League Ignite for its All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge
Chapter 5 Book of Boba Fett deep dive (last week’s episode)