Going into the 2023-24 campaign, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley is not going to be taking anybody by surprise. He was the 2022 runner-up for Rookie of the Year, and he was one of the biggest reasons for Cleveland having the NBA’s top defense in the 2022-23 regular season.
Mobley has affected games in a number of ways for Cleveland over the course of his two seasons, and in just his second year, in what was his age-21 season, he was named First-Team All-Defense. His rare combination of perimeter and interior skills on that end of the floor, thanks to his fluidity, length, rim protection and team feel all have led to him being a big-time eraser already for the Wine and Gold.
Heading into Mobley’s third season, the USC product could be in line for a leap forward on offense, though, and that would be huge for this Cleveland team as next season unfolds, and for the 2024 Playoffs. Mobley made strides offensively in the second half of his second season, and his interior play, touch there, off-ball IQ and mid-range flashes were on display during that time.
Now, Mobley struggled on offense in Cleveland’s first-round series loss to the New York Knicks, and in general, it’s evident going into Year 3 he has to show more growth as a shooter and on-ball threat outside the paint. He did have 16.2 points and 2.8 assists per contest last season, but through two seasons, Mobley has shot just 23.2 percent from three-point range and 66.9 percent from the foul line.
Thankfully, with Cleveland’s offseason additions, that could help Mobley with his play in set offense and next postseason, he should benefit from that improved spacing and shooting for his own shot creation/post-up potential in that setting. Along those lines, players such as Max Strus, Georges Niang and Ty Jerome could make a difference for Mobley’s further playmaking development.
One will have to see if it can play out in game action, but this was also an encouraging report, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, as it pertains to the possibility of Mobley being more involved in early offense for the Cavaliers this coming year.
Mobley leveling up his game on offense for the Cavs was reportedly a point of emphasis for him coming into this third year, and rightfully so. It’s not as if he hasn’t been working on finetuning his game previously, it’s just all the more crucial going into this season, that he exhibits more on-ball growth and is more involved offensively from here.
Mobley has impressive playmaking instincts for a young big man, and if he can be a grab-and-go threat at times throughout games for the Cavs, that’d pay dividends for him getting mismatches, and realistically, he could at least open up shots for others. That’s with improved spacing, and if his handle looks to be better, then the Cavaliers could have another driving transition and potential early offense threat.
It again remains to be seen whether Mobley will be able to regularly push the ball after rebounds, which are an area he worked to get more effective at as well, as he expressed above, via Fedor. But if Mobley is legitimately a threat to do that, Cleveland could be able to potentially weaponize guys such as Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and others more as off-ball threats this coming season.
If the Cavaliers are truly attempting to push pace more, which is reportedly the case, according to Mitchell and via Evan Dammarell of Right Down Euclid, then having Mobley do so could unlock more off-ball and he could feed movement shooters. Mobley being a driving threat in those situations could maximize him in that aspect as well, for what it’s worth.
Hopefully in early-season play, some of Mobley’s offseason work in the aforementioned areas bears fruit for the Wine and Gold offense.
If that does, it could create more advantage basketball for himself and his teammates.