Heat is on for Cavs’ Evan Mobley to get to another level offensively

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

It’s difficult to be critical of the play of Evan Mobley through his two seasons in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He’s been an integral player and has had his hands all over Cleveland’s turnaround in the past two seasons. He finished in a close second in last seasons’ Rookie of the Year voting, and in his second go-around, Mobley made NBA All-Defensive First Team, which was such a rarity for a player his age at not even 22 yet.

Mobley’s defense is already All-World, and his basketball intelligence, recognition and spatial awareness do not resemble that of a player not yet 22, nor even three seasons into his NBA career. His interior finishing, off-ball timing and passing abilities for a big have been outstanding as well, and should only improve as he gains experience.

The fact of the matter is, though, heading into next season, it’s imperative Mobley takes his game to new heights on the offensive end. For this Cavaliers squad to build on this now-past season, Mobley has to again be at the forefront, and more so on offense it seems.

The heat is on for Mobley to take his offensive game to another level in Year 3 with the Cavs.

Mobley’s offensive splits saw an uptick in the second half of the 2022-23 regular season, as he became more assertive, and had his share of big games.

In his last 30 regular season appearances, he posted 17.5 points per contest on 55.1 percent shooting. That included him having five 25-plus-point games in that stretch, and Mobley reportedly placing more emphasis on getting stronger in the second half of the regular season cleared paid dividends.

Unfortunately, in the postseason, Mobley had problems offensively versus the New York Knicks, and playoff intensity and physicality led to him being more limited on that end of the floor. He had two single-digit performances, shot 45.8 percent while having inconsistencies as a finisher, and had 12 turnovers to 10 assists in Cleveland’s five-game series stinker against New York.

Now, one shouldn’t be destroying him for that, and even with Cleveland’s rebounding woes, Mobley was still great defensively, and that’s always going to be a constant from him. The guy did still lead both clubs in total rebounds in that series, too, so let’s cut him some slack in his first playoffs.

However, from here, Mobley does have to level up offensively for this Cavs team to take that next step. Cleveland does need to add more perimeter shooting around Mobley and their dynamic starting backcourt, and one would imagine the Cavs do so via free agency and/or trade this offseason.

Regardless, further development from Mobley has to be demonstrated in Year 3. Rounding out his post game, and continuing to take strides in getting stronger should make a difference, to pair with him being able to hit jump hooks and push shots, and that’d enable him to be more impactful as a passer, too.

Along with that, it’s clear Mobley has to tighten up his handle to take advantage of slower bigs, and with his fluidity and ball fakes, it could lead to more at-rim looks.

Lastly, the shooting from Mobley has to show some tangible growth as well outside of the paint. He has definitely shown impressive flashes as a mid-range threat, and he can still build on being able to simply elevate over defenders with his length, but some pull-ups, one would assume, have to be mixed in, too to keep defenders off balance.

Of course, some legit catch-and-shoot growth from three-point range would be significant as well, and would make Cleveland and Mobley himself more dynamic in other ways. He’s not much of a deep threat at this point, let alone a horizontal floor spacer; he shot 21.6 percent from three in 2022-23 on 1.3 attempts per outing.

So some progression there and Mobley getting more attempts up are keys to watch, along with him improving as a foul shooter and attacker off the bounce, next season.

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Over the offseason, rest assured, Evan will be in the lab to round out his offense. Hopefully, he takes his game up a notch on offense in Year 3 to raise his and the Cavs’ ceiling.