Evan Mobley, the Cleveland Cavaliers rookie, has been heavily praised for his defensive ability and potential. He is a great shot blocker at 7-foot with a good wingspan but also has tremendous defensive versatility thanks to his absurd athletic ability. Cleveland drafted Mobley hoping he could change their defense with his ability to switch onto nearly anyone on the defensive end. After only two preseason games, Mobley’s defense looks the part.
Mobley’s defense is airtight already
Mobley’s defense was on full display during his days at USC, but the NBA is a different ball game. There were no guarantees his defense would smoothly transition to the next level. No matter what, it was expected that his defense would get better and possibly become elite. Right now, Mobley is hitting the ground running with his sky-high defensive potential.
He has been able to switch on perimeter and wing players on the defensive end. Most bigs will get beat off the dribble against smaller, quicker players, this is not the case with Mobley. The former Trojan has stayed in front of wing players and has forced them into contested jump shots. Mobley has a very lengthy frame, good luck shooting over him.
Perhaps what’s been most impressive about Mobley’s defensive game so far is his shot-blocking and ability to alter shots in the paint. Mobley has consistently swatted shots with four blocks through two preseason contests. Not only is he blocking shots, but Mobley is also altering nearly every shot he defends. He is already showcasing his knack for defending shots in the paint going straight up, avoiding a foul. Take a look at Mobley’s defense in Cleveland’s preseason game in Atlanta.
Evan Mobley's defensive versatility was on full display against the Hawks last night. Changed so many shots around the rim, especially with his left hand. Really comfortable sliding on the perimeter with wings and guards alike. Connects the dots on both ends of the floor. pic.twitter.com/wGYFUXEiFU
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) October 7, 2021
Mobley is already improving the Cavs’ defense during preseason play. As the upcoming season progresses, his defense is only going to improve, which makes Cleveland’s defense even better. The Cavaliers have made a clear effort of improving their defense in the last two years, it is starting to show on the court. With Mobley’s play during the preseason, how is Cleveland’s frontcourt rotation going to shake out?
What will the frontcourt rotation look like?
As with any rookie, Mobley will go through some growing pains and struggle at times. However, his impact on the Cavaliers’ roster is already quite evident. Not only is he playing great defense, but he is also rebounding at a high level with 20 boards through only two games. He is only averaging nine points in the preseason since his offensive game needs some development.
With Mobley’s play, how the Cavs’ frontcourt rotation will look this season is interesting. J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland’s Head Coach, has deployed a starting lineup with Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt. This is not too surprising since the rumor during the draft process was the Cavaliers wanted to pair these two. The fact Cleveland is immediately starting Mobley as of now is surprising though. Kevin Love is finally healthy and actually looks solid this preseason and the newly-acquired Lauri Markkanen has looked like a good scoring threat. With Love and Markkanen’s experience, starting one of the two over the progressing rookie Mobley would have made sense.
Things in the rotation can certainly change, Bickerstaff could just be testing Mobley in the preseason. Mobley is making the case he should start right away though with his clear impact on the boards and as a defender. He has a lot of offensive talent as well, and that will come with more playing time. Starting Mobley will likely speed up his progression as a scorer.
As mentioned, the Cavaliers’ frontcourt of the future looks to be Mobley and Allen starting with Markkanen scoring off the bench. In the preseason, it looks like the Cavs could implement this frontcourt plan immediately since Mobley’s defense has been outstanding.
Featured image courtesy of Ca.NBA.com
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