According to Cleveland.com’s (subscription required) Chris Fedor, Evan Mobley is expected to be back soon. Possibly, as soon as next week. Two of the team’s four games are at home next week including Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.
The 22-year-old rising star was expected to miss 6-8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery to remove a loose body. Next week would mark the seventh week of Mobley’s recovery.
Mobley was seen doing full-court sprints before last night’s game in Milwaukee and is expected to participate in team practice today. If all goes well, Mobley could make his return right when the Cavaliers need it most.
The aforementioned Thompson suspension has left the Cavaliers’ frontcourt depth gutted. Thompson’s unexpected production was a luxury the Cavs no longer have. Jarrett Allen has been playing great — but he can only carry so much of the load. Without TT, those backup big minutes are a problem. One that only Mobley would solve.
For all the worry of playing two non-shooting bigs together, Mobley and Allen still complement each other well. Sure, they do not space the floor as much as other teams. But Cleveland’s frontcourt is defensive dynamite. And most importantly, they cover for each other throughout 48 minutes of playing time.
Mobley’s availability makes the loss of Thompson a marginal one. The Cavs will be able to stagger Mobley and Allen for most games without having to rely on Damian Jones or a small-ball lineup of Dean Wade or Georges Niang at center.
Yet make no mistake, Mobley is much more than a piece to pad Cleveland’s depth. We are still talking about a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and blossoming offensive talent. Mobley is averaging 16 points to go with a career-high 10.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season.
Mobley’s return means the Cavaliers gain another dynamic defender who can protect the rim and roam the perimeter. There aren’t many players capable of defending the wide range of plays that Mobley can.
Offensively, Mobley joins a team that is playing much different than the one he is used to. The Cavs have taken more three-pointers than anyone in the NBA during Mobley’s absence. Making a successful return involves Mobley adapting to all of the breakthroughs this Cavalier team has made without him.
Does this mean Mobley will start shooting threes? No, I would not expect that. Instead, watch for Mobley to continue operating above the break as a facilitator — much like we have seen Allen do in recent games. Mobely’s grace and feel for the game make him a unique player. Inserting him into this free-flowing offense should be fun for everyone.
All in all, Mobley’s return is an overwhelming positive for the Cavs. It seems they won’t have to wait much longer to have him back.