Evan Mobley, the Cleveland Cavaliers rookie big man, has displayed his do it all ability in two Summer League games. Due to his versatility and mobility, Mobley has been advertised as a “unicorn talent” by scouts.
He can get it done on the defensive end, whether it be as a shot blocker or perimeter defender. Further, Mobley’s offensive game was expected to be solid with a lot of potential going forward. He has the ability to step out and shoot a jump shot, while also being a great ball handler for being 7-foot, 215 pounds. Heading into the 2021 NBA Draft, nearly every part of Mobley’s skillset was praised, but one skill was overshadowed.
Mobley’s Facilitating Ability
Wednesday evening, Mobley put on a passing clinic against the Orlando Magic. He had six assists, which is great for a frontcourt player, but it still doesn’t do justice for his performance. Mobley found open teammates on backdoor cuts, in the pick and roll and on skip passes from the post, the list goes on and on. For example, Mobley found Isaac Okoro on a backdoor cut with an effective bounce pass.
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Some power forwards or centers have the habit of holding the ball in the post, but Mobley proved he is not that kind of big man. Admittedly, Mobley did not pass near as well in his first Summer League showing against the Rockets. However, the vision and consistent good decisions displayed against the Magic is no fluke.
It is easy to understand why passing wasn’t one of the first skills mentioned about Mobley. First off, the stats to back up his ability to pass are simply not there, he averaged only 2.4 assists at USC. Also, Mobley’s ability to run the floor, defend, handle the ball and his stretch potential is likely more important than good passing. All of this is just a credit to how well-rounded Mobley is, especially as a frontcourt player.
The Benefit of Effective Big Passing
For Mobley, it is vital to continue his impressive passing. One of Cleveland’s offseason focuses has been finding more ball handlers and playmakers. Okoro put in a playmaking role in the Summer League and acquiring Ricky Rubio proves this. Mobley can do both for the Cavs, leading to more playing time.
Jarrett Allen is a good young center, but his skillset is not like Mobley’s. Adding a big that can pass and handle the ball like Mobley could do wonders for the Cavs’ offense. Against Orlando, Mobley handled the ball along the perimeter and found a cutting Okoro.
Okoro with the poster dunk!
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Could Allen replicate the passes shown, yeah absolutely. The difference here is Mobley is such a good ball handler for his size, in turn he is put in more playmaking situations. In addition, if Mobley understands the basics of finding teammates regularly on cuts in his second Summer League contest, his passing could get a lot better. Finding cutters in a timely manner is not always easy, so doing it consistently is impressive.
Look at Nikola Jokic, he finds cutters often. Jokic is already a threat to score in the post but adding the ability to pass makes him so much better. It is a lose-lose situation for teams, opponents get beat off Jokic’s passing when he’s double teamed or are beat one-on-one in the post. Mobley is not Jokic by any means, but any frontcourt player that can pass is valuable. Over time, as Mobley gets better as a scorer, his passing will become more and more dangerous.
The Immediate Impact
Mobley has a lot of developing to do before he can fully utilize his passing. Even with a raw offensive game, Mobley’s passing could still address Cleveland’s need for playmakers. Yes, Cleveland has good playmakers in their backcourt with Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Rubio. However, there is a dire need for a playmaker at forward or center. Mobley’s passing can make cutters more dangerous and more spot-up shooters can be found from the post. As his offensive game develops through the season, Mobley’s passing will only become more effective.
As a whole, Mobley has potential in nearly every facet of the game. Mobley still has potentially three Summer League games remaining. If he continues to show his ability to pass, his rookie season will become even more anticipated. Having such an all around prospect is very exciting for Cleveland’s future.
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