For Cleveland Cavaliers fans, there’s plenty to be excited about heading into the 2023-24 season, based partly on last year’s regular season success, despite playoff disappointment.
Cleveland had a productive offseason where they brought in shooters such as Max Strus (via sign-and-trade) and Georges Niang, and re-signed Caris LeVert. Ty Jerome could be a viable depth piece as well, and could quickly become an underrated signing.
The Cavaliers will have to go out and get after it on the floor, of course. Even with that realization, they should profile as one of the top squads in the Eastern Conference, or so it seems going into the new campaign. Cleveland has to iron out some things, and the roster could be finetuned by the 2024 Playoffs, but they should be able to build on the 2022-23 season.
What is also apparent is the Cavs do have an impressive quartet with Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Mitchell is the oldest of that group at 27, and the others are currently 23, 22 and 24, respectively, with Garland and Allen still only turning 24 and 26 during the coming season. Those players can take their games to another level, and with more experience together, they should get more and more comfortable with one another on the floor.
As it pertains to projections and/or potential still to come from young Cavaliers, it’s often intriguing to see what national outlets think about young, emerging players. With that in mind here, it was encouraging as a Cavs fan to see where Evan Mobley and Darius Garland were slotted at in CBS Sports’ 20 best NBA players under the age of 25, at No. 9 and No. 7 on that list.
Mobley’s incredible defensive abilities were the reasoning for his place on this list, with how he’s been one of the driving forces behind Cleveland’s defensive turnaround in his first two seasons. The Cavaliers were No. 1 in the regular season last season in defensive rating, and Mobley himself was named All-NBA First Team Defense in his second year, and he just turned 22 in June.
Mobley does need to get functionally stronger from here, but as Sam Quinn of CBS Sports highlighted, with his versatility already on that end, provided Mobley can add muscle, “he’ll have a chance to become one of the best defenders of his generation.”
Now, this coming season, Mobley does need to take a step forward on offense. It’d pay dividends for him to establish more of his game outside the paint, and hopefully, with better spacing around Mobley and others with Cleveland’s offseason additions, the 6-foot-11 big can have room to create and playmake.
Generally, though, the Cavaliers and their fans should be bullish on Mobley, who has already proven to impact winning in a variety of ways, and still has had his share of offensive production.
In Garland’s case, he has to rebound in his next opportunity in the playoffs, similarly to Mobley and other Cavs, but it’s clear that the young lead guard is a heck of a player in his own right.
Garland has established himself as one of the league’s best playmakers in recent seasons with his ability to make a plethora of passes to get bigs involved, along with shooters and cutters, and Garland’s pick-and-roll play is top-notch. He should only get better as he gains more experience in years to come with how he generates quality opportunities for his teammates.
In addition to that, as Ameer Tyree of CBS Sports expressed, in his first season playing with Mitchell, Garland paired his playmaking also with “efficient shotmaking,” including a career-best 41.0 percent three-point shooting clip, as Tyree noted.
Regardless of whether Garland’s output can increase game-to-game from here, his continual maturation as a big-time playmaker, PnR operator and multifaceted scorer and shooter should make him an All-Star-caliber player looking onward. Garland means so much to this Cavalier team, and he and Mobley have great chemistry as well.
Both Mobley and Garland should be long-term pillars for the Wine and Gold for the foreseeable future, and as CBS writers essentially alluded to, they’re both two of the NBA’s best youngsters.