The Cleveland Cavaliers had their highest pick in the NBA Draft since 2014. The Cavs used the third overall selection to add the multi-faceted frontcourt player Evan Mobley. With a high pick also comes high expectations, there is a lot of hype surrounding Mobley’s rookie season.
Ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, Mobley is tied with Scottie Barnes with the fourth-highest odds to win Rookie of the Year. Outside of odds, any player selected third overall is expected to make an immediate impact and compete for Rookie of the Year. However, is it possible for Mobley to be the NBA’s best rookie this season?
Mobley could start slow, and that’s okay
Mobley was regarded so highly out of college due to his versatility and upside. There are certainly areas where he will be an immediate impact, like on the defensive end. On the offensive end, Mobley could go through some growing pains to start the season. This is primarily due to his thin frame, he needs to get stronger being a frontcourt player.
At times, Mobley will flash his immense potential whether it be running the floor or guarding backcourt players. His athleticism for a 7-footer is extremely rare, which is why he was compared to players like Chris Bosh and Anthony Davis. All of the hype surrounding Mobley in the draft process has led to some high expectations for his rookie year. However, Cavs fans must understand not all prospects shine right away.
The former USC Trojan is coming into a crowded frontcourt in Cleveland as well. The Cavaliers have Mobley, Jarrett Allen, a healthy Kevin Love, and Lauri Markkanen. In addition, the Cavs just gave large contracts to both Allen and Markkanen, they are committed to them. Mobley will have to fight for playing time to begin the season, this gives him less opportunity to shine. Now, this does not mean Mobley will get no playing time, Cleveland still views him as one of their core pieces. Both J.B. Bickerstaff and Koby Altman have discussed their playoff goals for this year, they will not play Mobley extensively unless he helps them win. Between Mobley being a raw prospect and some possible limited playing time, he could have a slow start to his rookie year.
Past Cavs rookies have started slow too
Mobley beginning his rookie year slow is not the end of the world. One could argue he has the highest potential on the Cavs’ roster. This is not a knock of Collin Sexton or Darius Garland, Mobley’s potential is just that high. For that reason, Mobley can still develop into an NBA superstar even with a slow start this year.
Most NBA rookies are going to struggle at some point in their first year. This is normal, transitioning to professional basketball is not easy. Mobley “starting slow” does not mean he will be total a nonfactor. As mentioned, Mobley probably will have an immediate impact on defense. His ability to switch and guard on the perimeter is unique and valuable. Also, his athleticism will allow a lot of transition opportunities, and Mobley will be good in the pick-and-roll game. Mobley starting slow could entail some shooting inefficiencies or getting pushed around in the low post due to a thin frame.
None of Cleveland’s current core excelled right away in their rookie year. Both Garland and Sexton started slow, and like most rookies, they started to show a lot of improvement by the end of the season. The same can be said about Isaac Okoro and Allen’s rookie year in Brooklyn. Mobley’s path could look really similar to past Cavs rookies.
Patience is key in Mobley’s development
Due to the listed reasons, expecting a Rookie of the Year performance from Mobley could be somewhat unrealistic. What could prevent Mobley from doing enough for this award is the fact he’s in a crowded room in the frontcourt. Other rookies like Jalen Green, Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs simply do not have the same competition within their team that Mobley will have. Also, the fact Mobley is not a guard makes his chances at Rookie of the Year a lot lower.
Once again, not winning Rookie of the Year is okay. No young player needs to win this award to become a star, everyone develops differently. Cleveland has not had a rookie talent like Mobley in a long time. Watching Mobley do mind-boggling things as a 7-footer will be fun and exciting to watch throughout the upcoming season. Just like past rookies, fans need to be patient with Mobley as he comes along.
Featured image courtesy of Cleveland Cavaliers
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