Evan Mobley is in good standing to be the first Cavalier rookie to win the Rookie of the Year since Kyrie Irving in the 2011-12 season. The third overall pick has averaged 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in his first 30 games as a pro. Cleveland has enjoyed a winning season to this point at 21-17 in large part to the addition of Mobley. His impact nearly everywhere has been amazing.
The USC product has provided huge boosts on the defensive end and as a rebounder and has surprised with his offensive versatility. Coming out of the draft, Mobley’s offensive game was expected to be a work in progress, but he has quickly added to his offensive game. For example, the Cavalier rookie has consistently made contested turnaround jumpers for the majority of the season. Mobley is simply making freakish plays on a game-to-game basis, demonstrating his extremely high potential and value.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 31, 2021
Keep in mind, Mobley is a 7-footer. Not many players at that size can even dream of finishing a bucket like that. While Mobley is the Rookie of the Year favorite right now, he does have some competition for the award.
Rookie of the Year Competition
As expected, the 2021 draft class has been quite remarkable already. Several rookies will pressure Mobley this season and contend for the Rookie of the Year award. Josh Giddey and Franz Wagner have recently made huge strides in their development. Giddey became the youngest player ever in the NBA to record a triple-double this week. Furthermore, the Aussie rookie has posted 17 points three times and 19 points once over his last eight games. Giddey has been a remarkable passer since his debut, but his scoring is beginning to come along.
Orlando’s Wagner has been on an absolute tear since December. If a dark horse Rookie of the Year was to be selected right now, Wagner could be the one. He has averaged 23 points over his last eight games and even exploded for 38 points in the last week of December. While the Magic have dealt with a COVID outbreak, Wagner has elevated his game in a big way.
The two largest threats to Mobley are Scottie Barnes and Cade Cunningham. Both rooks have been stat-sheet-stuffers (similar to Mobley). Barnes has been consistent since the season kicked off averaging over 15 points and eight rebounds. Cunningham dealt with an ankle injury to begin his career but has now found his footing. Detroit’s number one pick is averaging 15.4 points, six rebounds and 5.3 assists, a true all-around game. There should be several good choices for Rookie of the Year when the time comes in the Spring, but Mobley has still been a clear choice thus far.
Mobley is in a Prime Position to be Rookie of the Year
Currently, there are several reasons why Mobley is the perceived favorite. Number one, he is the only contender on a winning team. Cleveland is on track to appear in the playoffs — which Mobley has been a large part of with the Cavaliers going 3-5 without the first-year pro. The consistency of the former Trojan has been extremely impressive, especially on the defensive end. Mobley has been a defensive terror in every game and has scored in the single digits in only four of 30 games.
Thus far, Mobley has produced a defensive rating of 103.0; this would have been the second-best in the NBA last season. Also, he is 10th this season in total blocks (53) and is tied for fifth in blocks per game (1.8). The stats alone prove his defensive value, however, they do not tell the whole story. Mobley’s versatility to switch onto guards along the perimeter has been irreplaceable for the Cavaliers. In addition, he has the knack to contend nearly every shot at the rim while remaining vertical, avoiding fouls. Mobley is one of the league’s best rim protectors already thanks to his unheard-of athleticism and length. Although unlikely, Mobley should be in contention for All-Defensive at the end of the season.
Evan Mobley went WAY UP for the block 🆙 pic.twitter.com/LrKWJaLEMe
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 5, 2022
The oddsmakers also see Mobley has the Rookie of the Year favorite. Per Odds Shark, Cleveland’s rookie is +100 for the award. Followed by Barnes at +250, Cunningham at +400, Wagner at +800, Jalen Green at +2500 and Giddey at +2800. The Rookie of the Year award appears to be a three-horse race as of now. As the season progresses, Mobley can only tighten his grasp on Rookie of the Year as he further develops.
Featured image courtesy of Sean Gardner/Getty Images
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