No. 2: Evan Mobley will win Defensive Player of the Year
As I mentioned, Mobley was the youngest finalist ever for Defensive Player of the Year. The fact that he has established himself as one of the best rim protectors in the NBA at such a young age is nothing short of astounding. The Cavs do not finish first in the league in defense without his daunting presence at the rim.
Mobley was first in contested threes, third in contested shots, 10th in blocks, and opponents shot a paltry 42 percent from the field against him during the regular season. Despite a playoff series where he underwhelmed offensively, Mobley’s defense translated very well, and he showed that his elite defensive prowess was no fluke. This can be seen in Knicks forward Julius Randle’s stats against Mobley in their playoff matchup.
Randle shot 11-of-43 shooting (25.6 percent), three-of-19 from three (15.8 percent) and had seven turnovers when Mobley was matched up against him. This was a far cry from Randle’s regular season performance, where he shot 45 percent from the field, and 34 percent from three-point range. Randle was dealing with an ankle injury, but Mobley’s success against him was evident throughout, and that didn’t diminish Mobley’s great positioning and active hands.
Mobley is only going to continue to evolve defensively, and in an offseason where his focus has been on the weight room, I expect him to be even more stout defensively, and lead to his first of many Defensive Player of the Year trophies.