Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley is having a great first season in the NBA. The athletic 7’0 specimen is a huge part of the young, upstart and very surprising Cavs team. Mobley’s play has helped the Cavs to a 21-16 record. For the first time in the Post-Lebron Era, the Cavs are relevant. J.B Bickerstaff’s aquad is currently the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The lanky former USC product has shown an innate ability to adapt to the pace and space of the NBA. His shot-altering defense and ability to switch onto perimeter players has been a huge asset to the Cavs’ defensive philosophy. That has allowed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to play two bigs together. Mobley and Jarrett Allen form this generation’s version of the Twin Towers.
“I feel like I’m getting adjusted to the NBA pretty fast,” Mobley said in November, after scoring 23 points and grabbing six rebounds against the Lakers. “I’m catching on to a lot of things. As I play more and more games, I’m getting better and more acclimated. I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far.”
He wasn’t lying. Mobley’s game on Sunday in a 108-104 home win over the Pacers was nothing short of sensational, delivering 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists. The progression is evident.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) January 3, 2022
Mobley Has Intangibles That The Cavs Love: A Quiet Toughness
Mobley came out the gate playing well for the Cavs this season, and his two-way play helped lead to a surprising (9-5) start in Cleveland. He’s played through some nagging injuries, including a sprained wrist, sore hip and sprained elbow, all products of his slender frame. But he gutted through rehab quickly with all three and returned to the floor for the Cavs.
Here’s what I know on #Cavs Evan Mobley: According to a source, Mobley hurt his hip earlier this month, when he fell hard in Miami. They’ve been managing it and treating it. But the pain hasn’t gone away. Tho he wanted to play, this gives him extra time to get right for road trip
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) December 16, 2021
Prior to the draft, Mobley was compared to players like Anthony Davis and Chris Bosh because of his length, shooting touch and two-way capabilities. His effect is supported statistically. When he plays, teams have a 100.6 rating against the Cavs. When he’s out, that rating jumps up to 111.
That’s a huge difference, and tells much more about Mobley’s effect on the game beyond his 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks per-game average. Those numbers have him at the top of our weekly NBA Rookie Meter along with Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes.
Mobley Was A Quiet Late Bloomer: Played At USC With Brother And Dad (Coach)
Evan is a quiet 7’0 footer. He isn’t boisterous or loud like his older brother Isaiah. Evan is about as even-keeled as you’ll find. He just wants to hoop and get better. The high school class of 2020 had some really sought-after players, but none stood out more than Mobley. When USC head coach Andy Enfield saw him play he couldn’t stop raving about Mobley’s length, athleticism, uncanny court awareness and elite basketball IQ.
He also possessed the ability to protect the rim, finish lobs and stretch the floor as evidenced by his 36 percent three-point percentage in high school. A 7-footer with guard skills was too much to pass on, and Enfield knew he could change the trajectory of the USC men’s basketball program.
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) July 30, 2021
Mobley Led Trojans To Sweet 16 For Second Time In Over 65 Years
Mobley’s one season in Los Angeles was to be remembered, as the prized recruit led the “Men of Troy” to the Elite Eight. His play in the Trojans matchup (2-3) zone really befuddled opponents, including blue blood Kansas in the second round and conference foe Oregon in the Sweet 16.
Following the landmark win over the Ducks, Enfield had high praise for his former five-star big man in his postgame presser.
“I do want to mention one thing here. Evan Mobley was our fourth-leading scorer tonight but he had six assists. Against Kansas he was our fifth-leading scorer and he had five assists. So that just goes to show you how unselfish Evan Mobley is and what a great player he is. He takes what the defense gives. He has confidence in his teammates, and that goes throughout the whole team.
He leads us with that. When your most talented offensive player is your most unselfish and willing passer you can win a lot of games like that.”
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) October 21, 2021
The Cavs seem to have found a budding nucleus in Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Isaac Okoro. Now it’s up to the newly extended J.B. Bickerstaff to continue to develop and harness that talent over the course of his tenure as the head coach in Cleveland.
A Bruin tried to dunk on Evan. It went poorly for the Bruin. pic.twitter.com/oTRH4VDsBl
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) December 9, 2021
His biggest advantage in a league which prides itself on the three plus pace and space
is having a player like Mobley who can do so much on both ends. That makes this rising Cavs team a tough out for any opponent.
More news from our partners: