Something special is brewing in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers have been one of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises this season, sporting the role of a legitimate playoff contender just months after making the third overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, which has become one. one of the most important factors in Cleveland’s resurgence.
MORE: Basketball-Reference projects Cavs advance to 2023 NBA Finals
Entering the 2023 NBA Draft, it was no secret that USC’s Evan Mobley was a must-see prospect. A 7-footer skilled enough to do it all at both ends of the court would be the perfect pick for a team that needs help in center position.
NBA League Pass: Sign Up to Unlock Live Off-Market Games (7-Day Free Trial)
When 6-foot-11 center Jarrett Allen was ready to enter free agency, the Cavs’ decision to pick Mobley apparently spelled the end of Allen’s career in Cleveland.
Only he didn’t.
Days after selecting Mobley as the No. 3 pick in the draft, reports emerged that the Cavs and Allen had reached an agreement on a five-year contract worth $ 100 million. Adding to the confusion was the Cavs’ four-year, $ 67 million commitment to 7-footer Lauri Markkanen a month after the draft.
Sure, Mobley and Markkanen are far from traditional 7-footers, but in today’s game, that kind of engagement with multiple front court players was confusing at best, especially with Kevin Love still on the roster. .
Looking back, Cleveland wouldn’t be where it is now if it weren’t for the decisions made by head coach JB Bickerstaff.
MORE: What does Rajon Rondo bring to the Cavs?
By sliding Love to the bench and Markkanen to forward position, Bickerstaff vowed to start Allen and Mobley side by side on the front court, creating the quintessential twin tower duo for the modern game.
Allen checks all the boxes for what he would like in a typical great man, and he does it all to a high standard. As a result of his athleticism and shooting ability, Allen is averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game while shooting more than 70.0 percent from the field.
In addition to his high keeper average of 10.8 rebounds per game, Allen is also showing off his rim protection ability with 1.4 blocks per contest. What more could you want?
To perfectly complement Allen’s traditional offering as a large company, Mobley is the complete opposite. As impressive as the rookie averages of 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 blocks per game are, they only begin to tell the story of the versatility he already brings to the NBA game.
You have a face-up game …
Welcome back, #EvanMobley!#NBAAllStar | #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/TzTwgA2RIN
– Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 29, 2023
A soft sweater …
An Evan Mobley three … It’s a beautiful thing. pic.twitter.com/BS6wphArtZ
– Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) October 30, 2023
And he shows his brain reading of the game with his pass …
Just a beautiful bounce pass from @evanmobley 😍 #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/mcI845nFWy
– Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 16, 2023
This could be from the preseason, but how many 7-foot greats can lead the break like this? Fittingly, it’s Allen who tops things off.
Good transition handling and playmaking from Evan Mobley pic.twitter.com/Txql2F5MzN
– Ricky O’Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) October 10, 2023
Defensively, it was impossible to find a single block to use as an example of Mobley’s rim protection, so how about a stat? As of this writing, Mobley is third in the league in shots contested per game behind Jakob Poeltl and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (per NBA.com Stats).
Not bad for a 20-year-old newbie. Oh, besides young Mobley, did I mention Allen is only 23 and Markkanen is only 24?
Although Mobley is already good, there is plenty of room for it to improve and become an even better version of what it already is. Over time, the chemistry between Mobley and Allen on the front court will only increase.
Consider Cleveland’s young backcourt duo of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, and you’ve got a team that’s road ahead of schedule.
The decision to take Mobley third overall is looking better by the day and we could see him culminate his rookie season showing off his skills in the NBA postseason stage.