3 bold predictions for Evan Mobley’s rookie season with Cavs
It’s official. The Cleveland Cavaliers got USC’s Evan Mobley as their third pick. This is another major step in the rebuilding process. Mobley is their third consecutive pick that fell within the top five. This makes the Wine and Gold a really young roster who have a lot of lessons to absorb. In the league where experience reigns, this may be one of the foremost liabilities of the Cavaliers. But at the same time, this is also their asset as younger players are more receptive to change.
By now, a good number of Cavaliers fans are already familiar with who Evan Mobley is as a basketball player. Defense is his greatest strength but given his sheer athleticism, he can also bring a number of good things. Let’s walk through how Evan Mobley will fare with the Cavaliers and also touch upon the organization’s short-term future.
Cavs Will Move Up A Few Notches on Defense
It’s not a secret that Evan Mobley is the best defensive player in the 2021 Draft Class. Last season with the Trojans, Mobley led the nation in blocks averaging 2.9 per game. The best thing about Mobley is that he isn’t your typical 7-footer with impeccable timing and defensive instincts. He doesn’t just camp inside the paint and contest and swat shots. Rather, Mobley is a very mobile big man. It would be foolish to switch smaller players to him because he’ll have no problem staying in front of them. He displayed his lateral quickness with the Trojans. It will be difficult, but Mobley can make the transition to the NBA.
Last season, the Cavaliers were the fifth-worst defensive team with a 113.5 rating. Among the many problems the Cavaliers had last season, the defensive end gave them the most headaches. The Cavaliers will receive a slight boost on defense with Mobley in the fold. “Slight” is the operative word here as defense is comprised of a plethora of different things. One of which is communication among players, something that takes time to develop. The coaching staff will play a big part in this aspect.
Pick-and-Roll Galore (With Rubio, Garland, and Allen)
As of writing, the Cavaliers are still in a dilemma regarding their two feisty guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Sexton beefed up his average to 24.3 points per game which actually led the team. However, there are some concerns about his decision-making and his lack of a reliable outside touch. He’s due a massive extension and given these realities, the Cavaliers don’t seem keen on offering Sexton that hefty paycheck.
The Cavaliers just acquired Ricky Rubio in exchange for Taurean Prince and a 2022 second-round pick (via Wizards). This will immediately make him the Cavs’ main orchestrator. By now, fans are familiar with what Rubio brings to the table. He’s a steady veteran who makes plays for his teammates. He’s averaging 7.6 assists per game for his career. The Spaniard is pretty adept at every situation be it fastbreak opportunities, alley-oops, pick-and-rolls, or drive-and-kick sequences. Evan Mobley is very comfortable running a two-man game with his guard as he showed with the Trojans. He has very good hands and upon catching the ball, Mobley displays excellent patience.
The playmaking won’t stop even after Rubio sits. Garland, who’ll likely be the backup guard, averaged 6.1 assists last season which led the team. He’ll be a better guard now with Rubio as his mentor.
While a Rubio-Mobley or Garland-Mobley two-man game is expected, Cavs fans should not be surprised if they see Mobley and Jarrett Allen running similar actions as well. As noted, Evan Mobley is a very mobile seven-footer. With the Trojans, there were few instances where Mobley took on a guard role, got a screen from a big, then finished the play with a strong drive to the hoop. Though we rarely see this in the NBA, Mobley might just be good enough to get away with this.
Cavs To Close Love Chapter
While Kevin Love is still the Cavaliers franchise guy, he’s been missing out a lot over the past three seasons due to injuries. It’s still unclear what the organization’s stance is on Love’s future. Are they going to trade him? Will other teams be willing to absorb his hefty contract? Or will the Cavaliers just let Love play out his last two seasons with them? This is still a matter of wait-and-see.
But looking at the Cavaliers roster, especially the fact that they are now stacked with two young and talented big men, it seems that the Wine and Gold are about to close the Kevin Love era. Even if he stays with the team, Love will still play an important role on offense. But we cannot expect him to put up numbers like the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love — something that some fans expected upon the departure of LeBron James. And this, my friends, is where Evan Mobley comes in.