This year’s NBA Summer League featured a few much-needed stellar performances from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ two-way and non-guaranteed players.
Forward Emoni Bates, the No. 49 pick out of Eastern Michigan in the 2023 NBA Draft, averaged 17.2 points and six rebounds per game during the six games he suited up for. Guard Sam Merrill hit 44.6% of his 3-point attempts, overcoming an inconsistent start from the perimeter as he knocked down a barrage of 3-point shots during a 100-77 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Guard Craig Porter Jr. finished the team’s Summer League run with 12 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.
The Cavs have 13 players on their roster after their moves during the beginning of the 2023 NBA Free Agency period in July. Cleveland will need to add one more player before the 2023-24 season starts. Cavs and Cleveland Charge forward Isaiah Mobley, the former No. 49 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, had an excellent Summer League and proved to be a reliable option for the Cavs on a two-way contract. Cleveland signed him, Bates and Porter Jr. to two-way deals in July.
Is Isaiah Mobley ready to make the Cavs’ main roster full-time? What can he bring to the Cavaliers if he did?
Why Isaiah Mobley should make Cavs’ roster
Mobley’s grasp of the game could give him a leg up over some of the other free agents available for the Cavaliers to sign.
“He is a very good rotational piece on a team,” Bickerstaff said in a postgame press conference. “He’s even better with better players. He just has a knack for the game, an understanding for the game. He’s continued to work on his shooting, he’s improved in that area. But, similar to Evan (Mobley), they have elite IQs and have a high understanding of the game.
“Credit to their pops for teaching the game the right way. They understand it. They get it.”
Isaiah Mobley’s IQ and skillset as a forward has allowed him to excel at nearly every level he has played at. He took a spot on the All-NBA G League Third Team following his first season with the Cleveland Charge. He dominated in the G League’s Winter Showcase in December, earning a spot in the G League’s All-Showcase team after he scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds per game. He made the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team during his final year with the USC Trojans.
The former McDonald’s All-American prospect ended the Cavs’ 2023 Summer League run with 17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. His 28-point double-double in the Summer League Finals paved the way for a Championship Game MVP selection as Cleveland took the Summer League Championship title over the Houston Rockets.
“I am super proud of Isaiah because the guy works so hard. He puts all the time and effort into it,” Cavs Summer League head coach Mike Gerrity said of Mobley, via Akron Beacon Journal Sports Writer Michael Beaven. “The best thing about him is he cares so much. He is so competitive and he wants to win every time he steps on the floor.
“I think in the Summer League, he showed his abilities and his versatility. He showed his ability to shoot the ball, his ability to play down on the block in the low post and I thought defensively he did a great job of defending pick rolls, protecting the paint and being a leader out on the floor that we needed.”
Cleveland will need to add one more sizeable option off the bench before the end of the offseason. Forwards Evan Mobley, Georges Niang and Dean Wade make up the signed options at the four for the Cavs next season, according to sports contracts and salaries website Spotrac. Centers Jarrett Allen and Damian Jones will be under contract for Cleveland next season.
Mobley’s versatility and defense would make him a welcomed addition to a roster whose bench led the league with a defensive rating, or “the number of points allowed per 100 possessions by a team,” of 50, according to NBA.com. His rebounding ability could help boost a bench that placed near the bottom of the league with 12.5 rebounds per game during the regular season.
The Cavs could try to bring in a veteran with plenty of NBA experience to play off the bench as a second or third-string option at the four or the five, or they could take a chance on Mobley if he continues to prove he can be an excellent player for the Cleveland Charge and Cavs.