Year two has been a bit of a disappointing one for Cleveland Cavaliers sophomore Evan Mobley. It’s not that he’s taken a step back after a stellar rookie year in which he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. Rather, he’s simply stagnated; plateaued in Year Two.
His scoring (15.0 points last year, 16.0 this season), rebounds (8.3 last season, 8.8 this year), and volume (12.0 shots per game last season, 11.9 this season) evidence this stagnation.
That said, those tallies aren’t bad, by any stretch. They were enough for Mobley to be the runaway Rookie of the Year until a late injury saw Scottie Barnes take the mantle. But one area of concern between the two seasons has been Mobley’s three-point shooting. He’s down to 22% from three this season after an also unsightly 25% last year.
On Tuesday, Cavs point guard Darius Garland had nothing but praise for Mobley’s shooting.
“I love it,” Garland said, per BasketballNews.com’s Spencer Davies. “I love when he’s just outside the perimeter shooting the 3-ball.”
Garland also expressed utmost confidence in Mobley’s shot.
“We’re confident in him. He’s confident in his shot. He’s working on it every day. I want him to shoot it.”
Mobley Earns Tim Duncan Comparisons
According to Garland, Mobley’s lack of a shot does not stem from a lack of effort in the gym.
“He has that chip on his shoulder,” Garland said on Tuesday. “He believes he’s one of the best in this league. We all do in this gym. We want him to show that. He’s been just going full speed, downhill. Being aggressive at all times in the game. Shooting the middy going 1-on-1. We love his aggressiveness.”
Garland isn’t the only one who sees big things for the Cavs star. After an epic rookie season, NBA insider Bill Simmons likened Mobley and his situation in Cleveland to a young Tim Duncan joining forces with David Robinson in San Antonio.
“Really, the only guy in the last 25 years who walked into the perfect situation was (Tim) Duncan. Where he comes in, he’s got (David) Robinson next to him, he’s got (coach Gregg) Popovich, they got veterans and they’re just immediately good,” Simmons explained.
Simmons forecasted a Duncan-esque ceiling for Mobley, the former of which is roundly considered one of the best power forwards of all time.
“So, you look at Mobley like this is about as good of a situation for somebody that I think has a chance to be like a top 75 guy all time. I really think it’s in place for him, if he can stay healthy, so you can’t come up with a better situation.”
Duncan, for his part, shot 18% from three during his career, suggesting Mobley might be able to excel even if his own shot never develops. But Duncan also played in an era that didn’t emphasize spacing the same way as the modern game.
Perkins Blasts Mobley for Lack of Development
Not everyone is so high on Mobley. Back in January, former player-turned-broadcaster Kendrick Perkins went in on the former USC Trojan for not taking a leap in his sophomore season.
“We’ve been waiting on Evan Mobley to take that leap like in the conversation with elite bigs. High expectations. I’m talking about a guy that’s 18, 20, and 10. At least flirting around with DeAndre Ayton-type numbers,” Perkins said on NBA Today.
Mobley’s lack of development may also be a product of the Cavs’ expectations for this season. Two years ago, Mobley Cleveland might have been focused on developing its youngsters. But with a team ready to compete now, development has been substituted for competing, which has the consequence of stagnating growth.