Cavaliers Big Man Evan Mobley Put on Notice for Not Taking Leap

Evan Mobley

Getty Images Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Evan Mobley has been solid for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season but some expected the former third-overall pick to be producing at a higher level in his second year.

One of the more vocal critics of Mobley has been former NBA big man Kendrick Perkins, who recently went in on the Cavs center for his lack of growth after a strong rookie campaign.

“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 is averaging 14.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks through 41 games this season — which is right on par with what he did as a rookie. He’s logging 33.8 minutes and is taking 10.5 field goals per game.

While guards Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland have been terrific, Perkins believes Mobley is the key if the Cavaliers want to compete for a title.

“If he doesn’t take that next leap, and he doesn’t start to grow in areas that we expect him to grow in, then, to be honest, we’re going to be wasting time watching this dynamic backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland,” Perkins said. “He is the key. What was he, the second or third pick in the draft? And one could argue that he should have been the first pick?

“He hasn’t lived up to it this season. They need more out of him, like 12 and eight they getting.”

Cavaliers Praise Evan Mobley For Impact on Winning

While Mobley may be hearing it from the talking heads, the Cavaliers don’t seem too worried about where he’s at. Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained that Mobley is in a unique situation, where he’s a high-pick on a team that is an established contender.

Mobley may not be putting up monster numbers on a bad team, but instead, he’s buying in and helping build a winning culture in Cleveland.

“What we try to do — and we’ll see how it pans out here — is it’s not about as much individual development; it’s about how much can you impact winning?” Bickerstaff told The Athletic. “And we spent a ton of time working on skills and all that stuff, don’t get me wrong. When Evan’s on the floor, how does he impact winning? And he’s a winner by nature.”

Mobley posted 17 points and eight rebounds in his most recent performance against the Trail Blazers, doing so in just 25 minutes.

Evan Mobley Big Part of Cavaliers’ Defensive Identity

While Mobley isn’t lighting up the box score on a nightly basis, his presence and ability on the defensive end of the court have helped turned Cleveland into one of the stingiest teams in the league.

John Hollinger of The Athletic recently did an assessment of the 2021 draft class and praised Mobley for his defensive prowess (while also noting his offense needs work).

“Mobley is clearly elite at the defensive end and is going to have a long, productive career even if he turns into a just-dunks guy on offense,” Hollinger wrote on January 5. “His ability to toggle among different assignments on the perimeter while still offering legit rim protection is one of the biggest reasons the Cavs ranked second in defensive efficiency, even while starting two small guards. He has a real chance of making the All-Defense team in his second season.”

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