Why Cavs’ Evan Mobley can make the All-Star leap in Year 2

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Evan Mobley had an incredibly strong rookie year and looks like a future superstar, and Darius Garland and Mobley are the two undisputed core players for the Cleveland Cavaliers going forward and were the clear biggest reasons for Cleveland’s turnaround. Darius Garland was the Cavs’ best player last year and he deserves most of the credit, but Mobley is a close second.

It’s hard for rookies to impact winning from day one and Mobley did just that. He was the best defensive rookie at his age to have this type of impact from day one. For most of the season he had a legitimate argument to make an All-Defense team as a rookie, too.

Mobley figures to make his fair share of All-Star games, but could he make it as soon as his second year? As a rookie Mobley averaged 15 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks and 0.8 steals per outing while shooting 50.8 percent from the field overall. Mobley’s defense was historically relevant, but he was also good offensively as well.

It wouldn’t suprise me if Evan Mobley took the leap in his second year and found himself in the All-Star Game with Garland. Defensively I think it’s fair to expect Mobley to make an All-Defensive squad next year, considering everything he did as a rookie. I think offensively obviously where he’ll make the most growth, though.

Like a lot of rookies when they come into the NBA, he clearly needed to get stronger looking onward, but I’d expect him to come into camp with added strength and physically be much stronger then he was in Year 1. He did a good job posting up as a rookie, even still, that should only help him next season.

In Year 2 I expect Mobley to be much more assertive offensively and looking for his shot. During the season he averaged 12 shot attempts per game. If you want to look at shots per game Ricky Rubio was getting more shots than Mobley before Rubio’s injury and Caris LeVert per game when he arrived averaged more shots than Mobley. It’s understandable and again I’d expect Mobley to be more assertive and for that number to be at 15 or more attempts per game and for him to finish second in shots per contest behind Garland.

In the early-to-middle portion of the season, Mobley showed plenty of potential stretching the floor from three. In his first 28 games Mobley hit 15 3-pointers and was shooting 33 percent on 1.7 attempts per game, so just barely under two attempts per game. It wasn’t a huge volume of course, but in the early part of the season to about mid-January he was making the most of his attempts and hitting them at a reasonable rate, given the little experience, however he only hit nine triples after December.

Getting back to where he was in the early-mid part of the season and improving on that would go a long way. Mobley has a pretty good shooting form/stroke and I believe after a full offseason, will look more comfortable shooting from three. It seems very doable that it’s something he can make strides on, and has been looking to improve on that already in the offseason.

Mobley has a very strong feel for the game offensively, but was able to show a bunch as a shot creator as well in his first season. He’s got a nice handle for a big man his size, he’s very skilled and has really good touch around the rim. Factoring in how he should be much more physically stronger next year should only help with a potential leap, too. Mobley looked pretty comfortable operating from the mid-range as well, but again, improving on pull-ups and from three is really the key to all of this, and I think we’ll see that.

If Mobley is able to build on where he was early-mid season from a shooting perspective from three and build on that I think making the All-Star Game wouldn’t be a surprise, provided the Cavaliers are in a good spot again as a team, which I think they definitely should be with more experience.

With how good he already is defensively, plus, his overall feel for the game/his passing, hopefully a stronger and more assertive version of Mobley should be even better in the post and more lethal at finishing considering, how skilled he is with his touch around the basket. The Cavs seemingly set to have more shooting and shot creators should also help him operate more as well. If Mobley can build off where he was shooting in early-mid season, an Anthony Davis-type second year jump isn’t out of the question.

When looking at the frontcourt All-Star picture in the Eastern Conference, it is tough with the likes of Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum and Jimmy Butler, and Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes is another guy to keep in mind, among others. If Mobley is able to make that leap I think it’s plausible he can jump a DeMar DeRozan, who was voted in as a forward and even beat out a Khris Middleton.

The Cavs won 44 games this year and ultimately fell off in the end, with injuries being a big part of that. The Cavaliers aren’t in a championship-or-bust mode yet like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers or Milwaukee Bucks, but I think it’s possible Cleveland can win 48 games next year being a 5 or 6 seed.

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And if Mobley can make the strides he needs to, factoring in team success, him being an All-Star is a real possibility and wouldn’t be that surprising.