Cleveland Cavaliers show signs of life in week two: Cavs Roundup

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

Every week, we will award three Cavs with “Crowley’s Crowns”, highlighting their extra efforts and next-man-up mentality.

Crowley’s Crown 1 – Donovan Mitchell

Cleveland went all-in by acquiring Donovan Mitchell in a late offseason trade last year, hoping that the perennial All-Star could uplift this budding roster into a contender. Though it did not pan out in the first postseason, Mitchell has been nothing short of astounding since joining the Cavs. His first season was also the best of his career with career highs in points and efficiency, leading to his first All-NBA Team selection.

This year, Mitchell has started where he left off and improved upon it. Mitchell scored at least 30 points in three of Cleveland’s four contests this week, including a near double-double against the Pacers with 38 points and nine assists. In Cleveland’s win against the Knicks, Donovan Mitchell silenced a boisterous Madison Square Garden crowd, scorching the Knicks from deep, hitting six-of-15 3-point attempts to end the night with 30 points.

Not only has Mitchell’s offense impressed, but his defensive commitment may be the best of his professional career. Averaging over 2 steals per game, Mitchell has been unafraid to muscle through screens or jump into the passing lane. Undoubtedly, Mitchell has been the engine behind the Cavaliers to start the season.

Crowley’s Crown 2 – Emoni Bates

The Cavaliers had a desperate slate of games with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Ty Jerome injured. This forced Cleveland to trust in their two-way players to hop into the rotation. Both Craig Porter Jr. and Emoni Bates accepted the responsibility and were confident regardless of the sudden change.

While Porter helped fill the Cavaliers’ depleted backcourt rotation and deserves appreciation for that, every moment Bates spends on an NBA court will be under a microscope from both his supporters and detractors this season. In 23 minutes, Bates scored nine points and shot two-of-five from deep. When the Cavaliers drafted the former top prospect in the late second round, all eyes focused on Bates’ ability to transfer his natural scoring talents to the NBA. His slender frame and poor defense left plenty of people speculating as to his actual value in the Association. While he is not in the nightly rotation, Bates has already proven he will be able to build himself into a reliable NBA player if he continues his trajectory from Summer League and preseason.

 Crowley’s Crown 3 – Tristan Thompson

Returning to his first team, Tristan Thompson signed a one-year deal with the Cavaliers as a backup center. It was assumed that Thompson would be behind Jarrett Allen and Damian Jones in J.B. Bickerstaff’s rotation, but after seven games Thompson seems to have secured a spot as the go-to option for the second unit’s frontcourt.

Thompson has appeared in five games thus far and has grabbed five rebounds in three of those games. Though he has not scored in bunches, Thompson’s presence in the paint has punished poor defense with a unique post skillset full of baby hooks and powerful moves to the basket. Thompson has been an on-court leader, paving the way for Cleveland’s young backcourt to embrace the physicality required to be a dominant big man. His veteran leadership has provided the Cavs with a needed boost to their frontcourt both through action and voice.

Thompson came to Cleveland to lead the team, and that has seemed to rub off on Evan Mobley who has had double-digit rebounds in almost every game this season. Thompson might have been the most underrated pickup of the offseason across the league, considering the value he has provided on a minimum contract.