Evan Mobley has had a meteoric rise since entering the NBA. He was drafted second overall but was the best rookie in the league his first season, losing Rookie of the Year to Scottie Barnes in a close vote that looks worse the more time goes by.
Last year, just his second in the league, Mobley finished First Team All-Defense and was the youngest player in decades to do so, a reasonable proxy for his impressive finish as a Defensive Player of the Year finalist. The Cavaliers had the league’s best defense, and it propelled them to 51 wins. Mobley’s ability to play significant minutes allowed the Cavs to maintain that defense despite shaky depth behind him.
Now Mobley could shock the world by taking a massive step forward on offense. The hype has bounced back on Mobley; this time last year it was en vogue to declare him the next Kevin Garnett / Anthony Davis / Chris Bosh, or some amazing combination of all three. Now the pendulum has swung back, and analysts are skeptical he can be an elite offensive player.
The dream for Mobley is that he can serve as a playmaking hub at the elbow, similar to Bam Adebayo or Draymond Green, while improving his shot enough to take and make corner threes with consistency. If he can also add strength to improve as a finisher and rebounder, and continue to grab-and-go in transition, the entire package can come together for Mobley even if he’s playing with two on-ball stars in Garland and Mitchell.
That’s the dream for Mobley. He won’t ever be Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic, but if he can average 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and hit a 3-pointer or two per game, suddenly it all unlocks for the young big. Combine that with his defensive prowess, and Mobley would make the first of many All-Star appearances this season.