NBA Hoops

Evan Mobley’s Game 2 Was A Glimpse Of His Ceiling

Evan Mobley

Key Highlights

  • In the Cleveland Cavaliersโ€˜ Game 2 victory, Evan Mobley scored a playoff career-high 21 points, while adding 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal
  • Cleveland outscored the Boston Celtics, 89-54, during Mobleyโ€™s 33 minutes
  • On shots within 6 feet of the hoop, Mobley held Boston to 3-0f-8 shooting when he was the primary defender

Just about two years ago โ€” after a promising step forward in which they jockeyed all season for a playoff berth before bowing out of the Play-In Tournament โ€” the Cleveland Cavaliers elected to mash the accelerator on their rebuild.

Darius Garland, then 22, and Jarrett Allen, then 24, were first-time All-Stars. Garland looked like a dynamic ball-screen maestro whose facilitating and pull-up shooting were a vivacious tandem. Allen looked like the perfect partner to cram home his lobs, capitalize on the short roll, and anchor a top-five defense. But Garland couldnโ€™t carry the creation mantle alone and 25-year-old All-Star Donovan Mitchell was available on the trade market. So, Cleveland parted with a bevy of role players and picks to land the sweet-shooting, hard-charging, laser-passing guard.

For all the faith in Garland and Allen, acquiring Mitchell โ€” which limited future flexibility and pressurized the short term โ€” spoke loudest about the player the Cavaliers believed Evan Mobley would soon blossom into. At that time, Mobley had recently concluded his first season, one where he finished second for Rookie of the Year and instantly asserted himself among the leagueโ€™s preeminent defenders.

Despite his offensive woes, the strides he showcased across 71 appearances were enough for the front office to believe further growth would propel him to stardom. Sure, the jumper and finishing needed polishing. But once it all materialized, his feel, playmaking and defensive versatility โ€” at that size and age (6 feet, 11 inches, 21 years old) โ€” were a dashing package of skills fit for a star. Stardom seemed like a short walk away more thanย  any sort of arduous journey.

Two years later, the jumper and finishing still need polishing, albeit less so than in April of 2022. Mobley is a better player today, yet the offensive evolution is surely ongoing rather than fully fledged (or close to it) and has rarely made its way into his 14 playoff ventures.

Floating on his toes, swiveling his hips, rerouting drives, altering finishes and contesting jumpers, he remains a game-wrecking…

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