Koby Altman says Evan Mobley will have an improved role with Cavaliers

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

In an ordinary rebuild, Evan Mobley‘s development with the Cleveland Cavaliers could easily take more than half a decade without any concern. After Darius Garland’s breakout All-Star campaign, it was clear Cleveland accelerated past a rebuild and already bordered on contention. By adding superstar guard Donovan Mitchell, Mobley may have more pressure on him to perform at his highest level next season than any other player in his draft class.

One possible development for Evan Mobley is his own three-point shooting. Neither Mobley nor Jarrett Allen threaten defenses on the perimeter, which may limit Cleveland’s post game. While Mobley’s long range shooting will hopefully evolve in time, the roster’s perimeter shooting flaws went beyond their frontcourt. They lacked a starting wing with a consistent shot.

At the onset of free agency, the Cavaliers targeted one skill above all else: outside shooting at the wing and in the post. Both Max Strus’ 197 3-pointers made and Georges Niang’s 154 3-pointers made last season would have placed them within Cleveland’s top four shooters. They also bring immense playoff experience, another trait necessary for future success.

It is no surprise that their additions to the Cavs will open up the team’s floor spacing and overall offense gameplan.

By adding shooting in free agency and trade, Mobley’s expansion of his shooting profile is not the catalyst for the Cavs’ future. Instead, a currently underrated talent of Mobley can be the focus of his game next year.

Cleveland’s president of basketball operations Koby Altman sat down for a virtual media availability conference with many of the top Cavaliers reporters. In the roughly half hour segment, Altman discussed a number of topics, including the fit of Strus and Niang, Mitchell’s role in free agent recruitment, the status of Cleveland as a free agent destination, and his vision for the Cavs.

Altman shared that when Cleveland first entered a rebuild, they studied other successful rebuilds across the NBA. One team that stood out was the newly-crowned 2023 NBA Champions, the Denver Nuggets. Their patience in developing talent and commitment to their core paid dividends, and Altman seems to be steadfast in offering that same loyalty to Garland and Mobley as the Cavaliers’ drafted stars.

The current iteration of the Nuggets is led by two-time MVP big man Nikola Jokic and dynamic point guard Jamal Murray. Altman clarified that he does not expect Mobley to be as talented as Jokic in Mobley’s third year, but he said he feels excited to see Mobley by year five and year eight.

A patient, methodical approach may be cumbersome at times when big name stars are available in trades. The Cavaliers made their big splash in trading for Mitchell, and they are not looking to blow up their core and gut their roster for another shocking change. Cleveland’s offseason additions were not jaw-dropping or headlining news. They were players that complemented what already is the Cavaliers core.

Strus and Niang are more than simply floor spacers, though, for Evan Mobley. They will play a critical role in Mobley defining his role in The Land. As Altman continued to answer questions, he eventually spoke on Mobley’s role this upcoming year in response to ESPN’s Danny Cunningham (via the above link to Altman’s media availability).

"“We really want to diversify our offense around [Evan Mobley] a lot more. So when you add the floor spacing, it’s only going to make him more dynamic.”"

In addition, Altman suggested Evan will play more time at the five with Niang at the four. Mobley’s playmaking will at times come through grabbing boards and pushing the pace with shooters in the corner. Specifically, Georges “Minivan” Niang connected on 52 percent of his corner three-point attempts last season. In that situation, Niang is perfectly suited to play next to a point-forward Mobley.

With a lineup orchestrated by Mobley consisting of both Niang and Strus, the former USC Trojan powerhouse will have the most dynamic and fluid offensive opportunity yet in his career. Developing Mobley as a passer can broaden the Cavaliers offense in a myriad of ways.

In Miami, Max Strus succeeded most as a movement shooter, often catching passes from the Heat’s playmaking big man, Bam Adebayo. Thus, not only will placing Mobley at the center of the offense improve his own role in Cleveland, it will also make the most of Strus’ impressive skill set.

Better offensive schemes through Mobley also would open off-ball movement chances for Garland and Mitchell.

By playing as the decision-maker for the Cavs, this suggests that Evan Mobley will move into a leadership role on the court, but he will not have to be the top scoring option every time down. His leadership will be shared among himself, Garland, and Mitchell. It will offer a superb opportunity both to elevate Mobley’s development and evolve Cleveland’s playoff hopes.

The Cavs success will not sink or swim entirely through Mobley, alleviating some pressure for his improved role. Instead, his growth will only strengthen Cleveland’s game without taking away any of what has already made the newest era in Cavaliers basketball special.

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Koby Altman’s vision for Cleveland is one of a talented and varied playbook. Team chemistry, long range shooting, and trust in a talented core is the flagship of the Cavaliers going forward, and they have the full support of their front office to succeed on their own merit.