Evan Mobley has to show how he’ll eventually be ‘the guy’ for Cavs

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Knicks vs. Cavaliers prediction
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) drives to the basket on New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /

Mobley taking a noticeable step forward offensively would raise the Cavs’ ceiling

It’s only been through two seasons, but Mobley has made his mark as an already-elite defender in this league. He’s been one of the biggest reasons for Cleveland’s defensive turnaround, and in this now-past 2022-23 season, he was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team, which is such a rare feat for a player who was not yet 22.

In his third season, though, Mobley sharpening up some things offensively would go a long way for the Cavaliers to establish themselves as title contenders. This is not discounting what adding perimeter shooting around Cleveland’s core could do in that regard, too, as an aside, but Mobley has to demonstrate more growth offensively outside the paint and ideally, as an on-ball driver.

Mobley is a terrific finisher at the rim, an adept post player, and as he fills out some more and gets stronger, that will only help his game. Him showing an uptick in offensive aggression was a big part of why he had better offensive splits in the second half of the regular season, too; in his last 43 regular season appearances last season, he had 17.5 points per contest on 55.3 percent shooting. He’s realistically a player the Cavaliers should run more offense through, also, when considering his playmaking abilities and basketball intellect.

The shooting from a bit further out and rounding out his on-ball tool box has to be the next step for him, still, and next season, hopefully there is more of a tangible impact in those areas, let alone some catch-and-shoot play.

There’s been flashes from Mobley as a mid-range shooter over his time with Cleveland, and he’s shown some viability as a pull-up threat there, and can splash fadeaways in the mid-post. His length will always come in handy in that aspect, and the flashes there could lead to optimism about his deep shooting potential or at least for him to sharpen up his free throw hit rate.

Overall, with the two-way ceiling in mind with Mobley as a 6-foot-11 big who can already affect games in so many ways, even while he has to demonstrate more growth offensively, it’s not unrealistic to believe Mobley can be “the guy” for Cleveland. And if there’s further signs of that next season, the Cavs should be in better shape. Mobley had 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks per contest in the regular season in Year 2; he just has to refine his offensive skill set some.

Additionally, if Mobley can take a leap offensively in Year 3 to help maximize his and the teams’ capacity, that could go a long way in helping to keep Donovan Mitchell around for the foreseeable future.