Isaiah Mobley made his case for a Cavaliers roster spot in Summer League

Isaiah Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Louis Grasse/Getty Images
Isaiah Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Louis Grasse/Getty Images /

Though being selected at pick No. 49 in the 2022 NBA Draft typically means a player will rarely, if ever, see real minutes in the NBA, the Cavaliers may have found valuable rotational players at the 49th selection two years in a row. Alongside Sam Merrill, both Isaiah Mobley and Emoni Bates were the best players for Cleveland throughout 2023 Las Vegas Summer League.

Summer League is not a definitive example of a player’s talent, but it is the best opportunity front offices have to discover gems hidden in the late second round. Counting stats are only numbers, but game-by-game improvement and mental attitude are worthy examples of a player’s potential in the NBA.

After his second Summer League campaign, Isaiah Mobley showed substantial improvement as an offensive facilitator and defensive anchor.

In the 2022 Summer League, the older Mobley brother averaged only 8.8 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. The 2023 Summer League Championship Game MVP jumped his averages up to 17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists alongside 1.5 blocks and 1 steal per contest. The leap in confidence and production in just one year suggests that Isaiah Mobley is not just a dud who happens to be related to Cleveland’s star prospect.

What stood out was his post control and court vision, two areas of necessary improvement for his younger brother Evan. The level of improvement Isaiah Mobley displayed was at times awe inspiring. He led the Cavaliers squad to the franchise’s first Summer League Championship earlier this month.

By taking an active leadership role, Isaiah Mobley’s improved stats only tell part of his story. His mental growth and fortitude are the greater sign of legitimate talent for the aspiring big man.

Isaiah Mobley is shining in Cleveland and earning a full NBA contract.

While Cleveland already has their starting frontcourt pair in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, their bench rotation behind the two still has room for improvement.

In the offseason, the Cavaliers traded for Utah’s Damian Jones, merely absorbing his $2.6 million salary. Jones gives the Cavs an athletic, rim running center with decent defense, but his skill set does not go much further than this.

After a season in which backup post minutes through 2022-23 were quite barren, Cleveland can really not have too many options behind Allen and Evan. Currently, Isaiah Mobley is on his second two-way deal with the Cavaliers, meaning his primary role will be in the G-League but is available to be called up for a limited number of games.

At any point this year, the Cavs can offer Mobley a full contract and play him in any regular season and playoff contest.

In his 12 appearances with the Cavaliers last year, Isaiah Mobley only averaged 2.6 points and 1.67 rebounds in 7 minutes per game. When he received a larger role on the Summer League team, he shined. With that confidence and improvement, a more consistent role with the Cavaliers would hopefully result in a similar growth.

The league is experiencing an overabundance of talent right now. More and more solid players are coming from late in the draft (or entirely undrafted) and playing in the G-League before their guaranteed deals. The Cavs just brought on an undrafted wing in Max Strus, who was one of the best wing shooters in free agency this summer.

2022 NBA Champion Gary Payton II and 2023 Eastern Conference Champion Gabe Vincent both played in the G-League before eventually becoming a significant piece on an NBA Finals roster. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo’s running mate Khris Middleton spent the full duration of his first season in the G-League after being selected 39th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

As time continues, role players from the second round are becoming drastically more valuable for NBA rosters, both financially and strategically. For a team with an ever growing cap sheet such as the Cavaliers, discovering talent on the Charge will be a critical part in their race to the NBA Finals.

Following his dominant summer campaign Isaiah Mobley deserves his shot. Talented bigs are a coveted prize in the NBA.

dark. Next. Start, Bench, Cut with recent No. 3 picks: Mobley, Smith, Scoot

Calling up Isaiah Mobley gives Cleveland three post players with astounding potential, giving the team a stable presence going forward. His addition to the Cavs is an undeniably worthwhile risk to take. He is showing his heart and drive to be an NBA talent. Now is the time to see what he is made of.