It’s appearing as though the Cleveland Cavaliers will be starting the season without the services of starting center Jarrett Allen. Allen, who’s dealing with a bone bruise in his left ankle, will reportedly be out for two weeks, and it’s likely that he won’t be healthy enough in time for the Cavs’ season opener on October 25 against the Brooklyn Nets. But there’s a major silver lining to this unfortunate development, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Bontemps contended that, without Allen to start the year, Evan Mobley will have ample opportunity to improve his game as he operates in more space without the Cavs’ twin-towers setup pushing him farther away from the hoop.
“I think this could be a bit of a blessing in disguise for the Cavs because, as we know, there’s a lot of pressure on Cleveland this year, lot of pressure to win, lot of pressure on a lot of fronts with the Cavs,” Bontemps said on The Hoop Collective podcast, via Cavaliers Nation. “I do think one of the possible downsides of that was that I don’t know if Evan Mobley was necessarily gonna get the opportunity to operate in some more space offensively and have the ball in his hands more and do some more stuff that they really need.”
One of the problems the Cavs ran into last year was the lack of spacing, particularly in the frontcourt; as much as Evan Mobley tries to accommodate Jarrett Allen, Mobley is not a floor-spacing big man. He ranked among the worst players in the league last season in three-point shooting, which made opposing teams very comfortable in packing the paint, like the New York Knicks did in the 2023 playoffs.
But in Allen’s absence, the Cavs are likely to turn towards either Georges Niang or Dean Wade to partner with Mobley in the frontcourt. Niang and Wade are much better fits alongside Mobley thanks to their marksmanship from deep, so the 22-year old big man will have plenty of space to operate on the interior, which could facilitate a Year 3 leap for the young big man.