How could Cavs’ Donovan Mitchell trade affect Evan Mobley’s outlook?

In what seemed to be relatively out of left field, taking everything into account, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a blockbuster trade to acquire Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz last week.

There had rumors out there involving trade discussions, but the Cavs actually swinging a deal for Mitchell did appear to be far-fetched long ago. It’s something that I do have some reservations about, in fairness, though I do acknowledge Mitchell is a hell of a player now in his prime and will look to be one of the core guys for the foreseeable future.

Defense is something that Cleveland is going to figure out lineup-wise; even still, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen the franchise pillars defensively, which will help.

In relation to other defensive-oriented pieces, I foresee Dean Wade now being particularly crucial, and the likes of Isaac Okoro and Lamar Stevens should get their opportunities. Perhaps another trade could occur at some point, sure, as an aside. For now, anyway, I’m on-board with Wade starting at the 3, for what it’s worth, in co-signing what KJG’s Josh Cornelissen was selling, on the subject.

But as far as the offensive end again in this sense, it’s evident that the hierarchy has been altered going into next season post-Mitchell trade. Prior to that, I personally could’ve foreseen Mobley being Cleveland’s likely second option, whereas now, Mitchell is the top scoring option that is, Darius Garland is still the engine, and I see as No. 2.

That leaves me to forecast Mobley as being likely the No. 3 guy, at least for now prior to the season, and we’ll see what plays out from here.

Nonetheless, while we should see Mitchell’s presence, shot creation, and combo guard skill set fully on display and he’ll produce in a big way on offense, Mobley should still get his considerable share of looks. Secondary playmaking should still be an area to look out for from Mobley, too.

The Mitchell trade affects the Cavs’ hierarchy, sure, but that shouldn’t mean we won’t see Mobley level up offensively.

Mobley’s offense is not nearly at the level of his defense, which was elite as a rookie, one could assuredly argue, already. Although on the other end, he did still have 15.0 points per contest, and his touch in the paint, finishing with both hands as a cutter/roller and from his self-creation was impressive.

Additionally, Mobley’s mid-range abilities demonstrated last season from initiating from the elbows, at times from the wing and in the mid-post were very encouraging. His high release in those situations, and footwork to get to his preferred spots allowed him to get off quality looks in those plays, and he was able to mix in fadeaways, too.

Plus, it was nice to see Mobley use his capable handle against opposing bigs, or at times in switchout situations to get to the rim from quick drives along the baseline, or a bit through gaps when they were there. His secondary passing threat as an unselfish player also should help him hone in on his shot creation as well.

Now, Mobley’s three-point shooting is obviously an area where he’ll need to show improvement this upcoming season, as he shot only 25.0 percent from there as a rookie, and had just 1.3 attempts per outing. On the plus side, that seemingly has been a point of emphasis for him throughout the offseason, and him continuing to work on his off-the-bounce shooting should prove meaningful in Year 2.

The stroke looks more than workable, too, so next season, playing off of Garland and Mitchell, we should see some real catch-and-shoot progression from Mobley, I’d imagine.

So, while the Mitchell trade does feasibly impact Cleveland’s pecking order some, of course, I still believe with continued scoring skill set strides made, and with him a gifted passer, Mobley could take a notable step forward on offense in 2022-23.

We’ll have to see what shakes out and/or if another potential trade is made at some point, but generally speaking, I’d look for Mobley to look more polished offensively, and Cleveland to run offense possibly through him more in stretches.