In his third season, Evan Mobley seems primed for a big year for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has been one of the driving forces behind Cleveland’s turnaround as a team in the past two seasons, and this season, he’s set for an increased role offensively.
Mobley has to demonstrate growth as an offensive player this season, and he has to be of a jump shooting threat this season, but his off-ball timing, paint touch and passing all have led to him still putting up solid numbers thus far.
Even with him needing to take another step forward on offense from here, he has already proven to be quite the difference-maker for Cleveland, because of defensive abilities.
Mobley’s length, rim protection, fluidity, basketball intelligence as an on-ball and off-ball defender all have led to him being such an ideal defensive fit in today’s NBA. Furthermore, Mobley was named First-Team All-Defense last year, and he became the youngest finalist in league history for Defensive Player of the Year.
With what he’s done on that end of the floor over his first two seasons, he could very well end up being the DPOY this next go-around. With that in mind, it was notable how The Step Back, and writers at other outlets, foresee that coming to fruition for Cleveland’s big man in 2023-24.
Mobley is truly an invaluable player for the Cavaliers, and his defense has been amazing to watch thus far. Even for a player who just began his third season and is only 22, his wide-ranging skill set on that end is so impressive.
Last season, Mobley was one of the difference-makers for Cleveland’s No. 1 defense, and then, he had 1.5 blocks per contest and was fourth in the league in contested shots per game, per NBA.com’s hustle data. Mobley’s shot altering and rim protection is tremendous, and he has such a knack for keeping the ball in play after rejections.
While having the third-highest frequency in the league last regular season, Mobley also placed in 84th percentile in isolation defense, per Synergy Sports. He’s proven to be one of the league’s best on-ball defenders, and should continue to improve there as he gains more experience and keeps getting functionally stronger.
His versatility, including being able to make plays operating in zone situations with his length, as Chris Kline of The Step Back expressed, has been essential for Cleveland’s defense. The 6-foot-11 Mobley is the ultimate trump card defensively in today’s NBA, both from an individual and team perspective.
Now, to reiterate, Mobley has to put it together more offensively for the Cavaliers from here, as was previously mentioned. However, Cleveland’s offseason additions should make the more much more multiple offensively, and Max Strus got off to a scorching start with 27 points, and canned seven threes on Wednesday night in a win over the Brooklyn Nets.
But, as Ian Levy of The Step Back also stressed, Mobley’s defensive efforts will still be crucial for the Cavs to emerge as contenders in the Eastern Conference, of which they seem to be on the verge of being.
Needless to say, this season, nobody should be shocked if Evan Mobley is the next Defensive Player of the Year. Kline and Levy are on-board with that take, and Sam Quinn and Bill Reiter of CBS Sports are as well. Ditto for Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report.
Whether he’s operating in tandem with Jarrett Allen with him roaming or in lineups where he’s more of a traditional rim protector, Mobley’s stellar defense is going to continually receive recognition moving forward.
And this season, many seem to believe he’s next up as the DPOY.