How Cleveland Cavaliers young stars can make the All-Star Game next year

2022 NBA All-Star - Taco Bell Skills Challenge
2022 NBA All-Star - Taco Bell Skills Challenge / Jason Miller/GettyImages
2 of 2

What must Garland do to get back in the ASG?

Aside from being lucky and avoiding the injury plague, a return to form in accuracy on above-the-break three-point attempts, the area where he tries the overwhelming amount of threes, would greatly improve Garland's chances in 2025. In his All-Star campaign (2021-22), he converted 38.6 percent of attempts from that zone. Last season, he was even sharper, making 40.9 percent. This year, he’s making only 32.2 percent.

Notably, shooting off the dribble hasn’t been the same this year for Garland as last, but he’s set similar marks to his All-Star season. His efficiency on pull-up jumpers is down to 39.5 percent. He swished 45 percent of those in 2022-23 and 40.6 percent before that. Garland has played a more off-ball role this season, but he has struggled to convert his opportunities off the dribble when they appear.

Next, he needs to return to his off-ball efficiency. Sixteen guards have a higher time of possession average (in minutes) than Garland (6.3). When he’s off the ball, aside from relocating on the perimeter for a catch-and-shoot bomb that has only dropped at a 30.2 percent clip, increasing his inside-cut diet would help. He has a quick first step and should be able to get by defenders with a quick shuffle or take advantage of ball watchers for baseline gashes.

And defensively, he must be more disruptive. In the last two years, his defensive field goal percentage against guards has been 44.6 and 46.3. In 2023-24, it dipped to 52.7 percent. He spends over three-quarters of his time on defense, checking opposing guards.

The path to All-Stardom for Evan Mobley

Numero uno - get stronger.

Evan Mobley won’t scratch the surface of his abilities until he does, despite being a solid player today. He only posts up 7.6 percent of the time on offense and records 0.82 points per possession. There will be times he can’t force a switch, so being dependable when posting up bigs like Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mitchell Robinson, Myles Turner, and Bam Adebayo and hitting hooks or fadeaways is necessary to take the next step.

His playmaking and handle have improved yearly, but staying on that trajectory will help this objective. It’s a massive boost for the Cavaliers when he recovers a defensive rebound and takes off downhill with the snipers flanking him. More long outlet passes would help push the pace as well.

Showing the ability to hit the open three-pointer when defenses treat him like a JAG (just a guy) at the YMCA also helps. It prevents his cover from doubling a teammate quickly after the pass. If Mobley can draw more attention to the perimeter, it will also help his aforementioned fast-break playmaking when defenders gravitate to him and away from his teammates.

On defense, he is one of the most intelligent players in the league and almost omnipresent, able to cover ground quickly and switch to any position. While he does more than most players on this side, some scorers can get the better of him. For a recent example, in the Cavaliers' win in Toronto over the Raptors on February 10, All-Star forward Scottie Barnes pushed through Mobley multiple times for buckets. If he can do that, the perpetual flopper Embiid, super freak Antetokounmpo and more can have their way with him.

Dominating those matchups is important for Mobley because head-to-head encounters against the top do not go unnoticed. Mobley's dominant showing against Victor Wembanyama in his return game earned him plenty of eyes, but continued and consistent dominance will give Mobley the leap to the ASG.

Neither Garland nor Mobley are far from All-Star levels. Garland has shown he can make the team, but his recent luck with injuries have stalled his confidence and leaguewide appreciation. As for Mobley, the young star is beginning to evolve as an overall talent. Both players could join Donovan Mitchell next year if they can show consistent improvement in these key areas.

Next. 3 Former All-Stars the Cavaliers could snag off the buyout market. 3 Former All-Stars the Cavaliers could snag off the buyout market. dark