Evan Mobley was the most influential rookie in Cleveland Cavaliers History is not called LeBron James. His ability to completely disrupt opposition crimes was almost unheard of by someone his age. The offense wasn’t polished, but it definitely showed flashes of greatness.
Mobley will be a star. It’s just a matter of how long it will take him to get to this point.
to rise: 6′ 11′
Weight: 215 lbs
2021-22 Statistics: 69 games played, 33.8 minutes, 15 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists with 0.508/.250/.663 shooting splits
It’s hard to imagine what a better defensive version of Mobley looks like even when considering how great he has been in his rookie season. Mobley finished the year in contention for 12.3 shots per game, the third highest in the league. He did this while polluting only 2.7% of the defensive plays that were in Ninety-third percentile In the league among the adults. All the time, he stopped 1.7 shots per game – good for a sixth place in the league. It’s crazy to think that these staggering numbers came from a 20-year-old novice.
Mobley’s next logical step is to get more comfortable ocean gatekeeping. The top of the Eastern Conference is full of star-studded forwards/wingers like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum. Being a competitive team requires you to be able to stand up defensively with these players on a nightly basis or in a series of seven matches.
Mobley’s inconsistent defensive rebound is something he will need to improve next season. He only had 17% of the opponent’s missed shots last season, putting him in Forty-fourth percentile among adults. It’s easy to point to playing alongside Jarrett Allen as the reason he didn’t get many rebounds, but his rebound numbers didn’t increase much by the time Allen was out. Finding a way to become a more consistent rebel is a skill that Mobley still needs to fully develop.
Mobley’s offense was solid but there is more obvious room for improvement on that end. It’s easy to talk about Mobley’s shooting abroad as a cause for concern. It will definitely help him become a 3-point shooter with 33% or better at a decent size. Having said that, I don’t think that’s a realistic goal for this season. Having a more reliable in-between game is something he needs to improve even more if he’s going to jump in full swing as a scorer while sharing paint with Jarrett Allen.
Mobley took 34.1% of his shots between four feet and 14 feet from the basket (another way to think about it is between the restricted area and the extended free throw line). To put perspective, Mobely was in Ninety percent From adult size shots. However, Mobley was only able to convert 38% of those shots, making him into 35th percentile.
The outside shot is a problem, but it’s not what stops him from being an effective goalscorer, his impressive shot percentage on the edge will have you believing he could become one. It was the volume and lack of conversion in shots under the free-throw line that really led to his shot percentage. Mobley was an influential playmaker at the high post, but not an effective goalscorer. Cleaning his shot percentage in that area will unlock his game and the Cavs’ high and low offense with him and Allen.
Mobley wasn’t a finished product last year and likely won’t be again this season. However, this did not prevent him from being one of the team’s most valuable players. Getting marginally better at what he’s already doing well could propel him into the All-Star and All-Defensive team conversation. Making another drastic leap forward like he did from the summer league to the junior season last year could have this team talking about him as a contender at the conference and Mobley in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
Garland, Mitchell and Allen should provide the groundwork for the Cavs to be competitive in a loaded East Conference. Mobley’s all-season development will define its cap. He has all the ingredients for a superstar who can lift this team up to be competitive. Whether or not he is able to reach his potential this season or in the coming years remains to be seen.