21-year-old Evan Mobley does all the right things on the basketball court for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While the high-scoring exploits of his teammate Donovan Mitchell often dominate the headlines, the sophomore forward has played an equally crucial role for the Cavaliers this season. He has helped Cleveland to a 47-28 record which has earned them fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
With seven games left on their regular season schedule, it seems like their place in the standings is secure as they currently lead the fifth seed New York Knicks by five games.
The hype around Mobley prior to the 2021 NBA Draft was fueled by his potential to become an elite defender and he has not disappointed over his first two seasons. He has racked up decent defensive statistics, yet the true highlight of his game is his versatility.
The quickness of the 7’0, 215 pound forward allows him to seamlessly switch onto quicker guards and his agility lets him easily contest perimeter shots or disturb opponents’ passing lanes. This is in addition to his traditional big man duties, namely shot blocking and rebounding, where he has consistently made an impact.
Furthermore, Mobley has made vast improvements on the other end of the court over these past few months as well. After averaging 13.8 points per game over the month of December, he has improved his scoring average in each month since.
Mobley is putting up 20 points on 55.2% field goal shooting through his first 10 games this March along with 10.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.1 blocks per game. All those numbers are the highest that he has averaged in any month this season and it is unquestionable that the University of Southern California product is trending upwards towards stardom.
In the Cavaliers’ most recent win–a 116-114 thriller over the Brooklyn Nets–the late game heroics of Mitchell and Isaac Okoro may have stolen the show, but it was Mobley who kept them within striking distance for most of the evening.
During the fourth quarter, Mobley scored eight of his 26 points to trim the Nets’ lead which hit a high of 10 midway through the final period. He aggressively attacked smaller defenders who were switched on to him, continuing one of the major trends that has driven his emergence in 2023.
The third overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft also collected 16 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and four blocks while he did not commit a single turnover. To cap off his brilliant performance, Mobley finished the match with a game high +/- of +16.
Cleveland will need Mobley to continue his strong play as of late if they are to make a serious push in the upcoming postseason. Although they may be a tier below the East’s top contenders, they have the tools (See: Mobley, Mitchell) to keep up with the league’s best teams and they could be a mere hot streak away from barging into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Regardless of what happens this season though, the future is bright for the Cavaliers with Mobley in tow. He is the kind of foundational piece that franchises tank for and it looks like this team is set for the next decade. It is captivating to think of what his eventual ceiling will be, though in the meantime, the Cleveland faithful should just sit back and enjoy the ride.