If you need a reason to be excited about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ upcoming season, it should be Evan Mobley. The rising star is entering his third year and is bursting at the seams with potential.
Name: Evan Mobley
Position: Power Forward
Weight: 222 pounds
2022-23 stats: 79 games played, 34.3 minutes per game, 16.2 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, 55.4% shooting percentage
Mobley took subtle yet meaningful leaps in his sophomore season. He upped his efficiency, cementing himself as one of the best interior scorers in the league. All the while, Mobley continued to be a world-class defender.
So what’s the next step for the Mobley?
Mobley will be a DPOY Candidate
Defensive versatility is Mobley’s calling card. He’s the ultimate help defender, seamlessly switching onto the perimeter to stifle ball handlers with a sixth sense for recovering to block shots in the paint.
Mobley has mastered the art of verticality, using his lanky arms to form a wall over the rim. He’s able to smother shots in the paint without fouling, like on this play against Orlando’s Franz Wagner.
His ability to retain possession after blocking a shot is uncanny. In this play, Mobley deters Jaylen Brown’s initial drive, before devouring his second attempt with a snatch-block that has become Mobley’s forte.
Here, Mobley tap dances his feet and rotates his hips in rapid succession to hold Paul George in isolation. This mobility for a seven-footer is remarkable.
Mobley is most vulnerable against huskier bigs in the paint. This is why bulking up was a point of emphasis this summer with Mobley adding seven pounds of muscle to pad his frame. Added strength could make Mobely an even more devastating defender.
The Cavaliers can count on Mobley to raise their defensive ceiling every minute he’s on the floor. There isn’t much he needs to improve as he already belongs in the defensive player of the year conversations.
Mobley’s offensive game needs to develop
Defense wins championships but getting buckets is what makes you a star. A boost in scoring is what will allow Mobley to plant himself in All-Star conversations.
Finishing around the rim is his greatest strength. Mobley converted 71.6% of his touches in the paint, first in the NBA for a minimum of 8.5 touches per game. He led the league in dunks and his freakish length gives Mobley an extravagant layup package.
Stretching the floor remains Mobley’s offensive Achilles heel. He’s found little success as a jump shooter but has occasionally flashed a silky post-fadeaway. Any improvement as a shooter would make Mobley a tough player to contain.
Most of all, Mobley’s potential as a playmaker is what we should watch for this season. The Cavaliers plan on playing at a faster pace and this could turn Mobley into an offensive hub. He has received reps as the initiator on the elbow, an intriguing action for the seven-footer.
Plays like this one showcase how setting up on the elbow can lead to better scoring opportunities for Mobley.
The Cavaliers’ offense as a whole will benefit from the added spacing of Max Strus and Georges Niang. But Mobley might reap the most rewards as he plays with the most freedom he’s ever had.
With a boost of confidence and additional space around him to operate, Mobley is set up beautifully for an offensive leap this season.
Big things are on the horizon for Mobley. Entering year three, we should see the most comfortable and capable version of him yet. Another lockdown defensive season and perhaps major improvements to his offensive game are in store.
One way or another, Mobley is going to show us how much higher he can climb. And as a Cavs fan, this should be all the reason you need to tune into each game.