The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the 2024 offseason with a major item on their list, which was to find a replacement for JB Bickerstaff. The Cavs parted ways with Bickerstaff following a second-round exit from the 2024 NBA Playoffs where they got crushed by eventual NBA champions Boston Celtics.

Enter Kenny Atkinson, who won the Cavs’ coaching gig over New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego. There is pressure riding on the shoulders of Atkinson right away, as Cleveland isn’t a team that is in the middle of a rebuild. He arrives in The Land on a team ready-made for the playoffs, and if the Cavs are to go much deeper in the postseason than they did this year, they would need Atkinson to perfectly utilize the team’s top weapons, including Evan Mobley.

Kenny Atkinson has big plans for Evan Mobley

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) is helped off the court by guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and center Jarrett Allen (31) during the second quarter at Target Center.

Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The big man was said to be among the focal points during Atkinson’s interviews with the Cavaliers, according to Chris Fedor of

“Sources say Mobley, one of the franchise pillars, was a primary talking point during Atkinson’s many interviews with Cleveland’s brain trust — either over the phone, via Zoom or in person. Atkinson laid out a detailed plan for Mobley’s development and offensive usage, some of which Atkinson revealed Monday afternoon, saying that Mobley could perhaps one day become a top 5 player.”

Mobley, who turned just 23 years old last June, is considered part of the Cavs’ long-term plans. He’s someone Atkinson has a big responsibility of developing into a franchise player, notwithstanding the presence of the likes of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.

The 2024-25 NBA season projects to be a crucial juncture in the young career of Mobley with respect to the Cavaliers’ vision for him. The Cavs exercised their player option on Mobley for the next season worth $11.227 million before he becomes a restricted free agent in 2025. It’s safe to say that the Cavaliers will be showing him massive extension money long before he hits next year’s NBA free agency market. One question, though, is how good will he look on the floor in Atkinson’s first season calling the shots for the Cavs.

Atkinson offered some insights on how he’d orchestrate the Cavaliers’ offense with Mobley in mind.

“That was a big part of our discussion during the process, how to get him to the next level,” Atkinson said of Mobley.

“He’s 22 years old so he’s just naturally going to grow. That’s exciting just with the talent. But I do think we can schematically get the ball in his hands more quite honestly. It’s going to be in multiple ways. I think when you have a guy that versatile, it could be him in transition bringing the ball up, it could be him handling in a five out situation or him handling in pick and roll.”

Mitchell and Garland will very much likely continue to be the top two options in the next season for the Cavs’ offense, but perhaps Mobley can be expected to see his role expand, given how much Atkinson seems to like the big man from USC.

Last season, the Cavs’ offense ranked just 18th in the league in the last campaign with only a 114.6 adjusted offensive rating.  Cleveland’s chief rivals in the East were way ahead of them in that area. The Boston Celtics (122.0) were No. 1 overall, the Indiana Pacers were second (120.1), the Milwaukee Bucks (117.6) were sixth, and the New York Knicks were eighth (117.4). Improving on those numbers and closing — if not surpassing — the gap between them and those clubs will be among the challenges in front of Atkinson, who will look to further extract Mobley’s immense potential.