The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a pretty respectable road trip thus far, as, while Jamal Murray and Kawhi Leonard were still sidelined, the Cavs handled the Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers on Monday and Wednesday.
From there, the Cavaliers played pretty well against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, but ultimately, they pushed past the Cleveland squad, largely because of LeBron James’ finishing and passing, to go with Carmelo Anthony’s shooting. Anthony gave L.A. quite an injection of life in the second half, and was knocking down three-point looks, leading to 24 points and he hit 6-of-8 from three.
The Lakers defense seemingly turned things up a notch in the second half, too, but overall, it wasn’t necessarily a bad performance, as the Cavs, who are still largely very young, were right in things throughout.
One of the clear brights spots, albeit in a loss, was the play of rookie Evan Mobley, who is off to a heck of a start for the Wine and Gold. The #3 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has been great at both ends of the floor.
And following this Lakers game, James’ comments in relation to Mobley were pretty telling about how special this young big can be. Here was on that, via Ryan Ward of.
Additionally, James stressed in postgame media availability how Mobley is already well on his way, essentially, via Michael Corvo of Clutch Points.
From there, LeBron even touched on how it felt “weird” (via “couple of years ago.” James also gave the Cavaliers props seemingly for their recent draft picks, which was a nice sentiment from the franchise’s best player in its history.Chris Fedor), playing against Mobley, a 20-year-old who was playing against his son, Bronny, in high school, a
Now, in fairness, these comments were after Mobley’s 23-point outing on Friday, which was a season-high thus far for the USC product. In that one, he had six rebounds, three assists and two steals as well, and Cleveland was a push in his minutes on the floor.
On Saturday, it was a different story for Mobley, who had just two points in 21 minutes at the Phoenix Suns, but did have four assists. The Cavaliers looked to clearly be feeling it in their third game in four nights, too, and it was a struggle for the team overall and Mobley.
The club had 19 turnovers in that one, which were deflating in that particular game against last year’s NBA Finals runner-up, and as KJG’s Corey Casey alluded to, that was a rough game from Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. Sexton’s past two games have not been good, objectively, however, I believe he’ll bounce back.
In any case, circling back to LeBron’s comments about Mobley, on a positive note, those were a big deal for Cavs fans, who are rightfully bullish on Mobley it seems.
Cavs: James seemingly had the highest of praise for Mobley, who is already proving to be the real deal.I know that many thought it was a no-brainer selection by Cleveland in snagging Mobley at #3 overall after Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green went 1-2, and it was, really. I’m not going to give the Cavaliers flowers for that.
Regardless, even with that last Phoenix game being a tough one for Mobley, and for the team in general, coming from arguably the best NBA player ever, that praise for Evan was something I’m sure that resonated with many.
I get that the Cavs had just played the Lakers, but even still, Mobley getting James’ stamp of approval was a nice touch, especially considering how the 20-year-old big was playing against LeBron’s son relatively recently. That goes to show how long James has been doing it, of course, too.
To this point, even with that Suns game involved, Mobley has had 13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per outing, and his feel at both ends has been tremendous for such a young player. He’s also led the league thus far in contested shots per outing with 16.3, per hustle data, and even at times, he’s played out top in a 3-2 zone, which has been something else, honestly.
His rim protection/rotational sense, shot contests and ability to contain perimeter threats has been awesome to see, as well as his contributions as a finisher, roller/diver, elbow scoring and playmaking presence offensively.
Moreover, as we hit on, these comments above from James on Mobley are something that definitely jumped out of late regarding the Cavs, who appear to have a gotten potential superstar in the past draft.