- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Seemingly every night, rookie Evan Mobley could search the internet for another name in Cavaliers history.
He’s already been mentioned in the same breath as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, John “Hot Rod” Williams and LeBron James, although the four-time league Most Valuable Player needs little sleuthing except to dive into his first-season numbers.
Mobley, the 7-foot center/forward who was the Cavs’ first-round pick (third overall) from USC, has sidled up to elite company in his 40 games and his assault on league records remains in its infancy.
His 17 rebounds in Saturday’s home victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder were the most by a Cavs rookie since Ilgauskas had that total on March 4, 1998.
Mobley entered Williams and James' sphere in the Cavs' triumph over the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 8, when Mobley scored 16 points with nine rebounds, two steals, and a career-high five blocked shots.
“Hot Rod” was the only other Cavs rookie to reach at least 300 points and 40 blocks in his first 22 or fewer games, with Williams totaling 369 points and 50 blocks in 22 games in 1986-87. Mobley’s five blocks were the most by a Cavs rookie since James swatted five against the Bulls on March 16, 2004.
Mobley's 29 combined rebounds on Saturday against the Thunder and Monday against the New York Knicks are the most by a Cavs rookie in back-to-back games since Carlos Boozer reached that number in 2002-03.
Young Cavs diss old-school choices: Isaac Okoro jokes that nobody likes the music Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff selects
Golden State's Chris Webber (1993-94) and Mobley are the only two rookies in league history to total at least 570 points, 300 rebounds, 100 assists, 65 blocked shots, and 30 steals and shoot over .500 from the field in their first 39 or fewer games.
That's just a sampling of what Mobley has accomplished. He was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November, and his onslaught on the record books hasn't slowed.
“It’s crazy that I’m doing things like this as a rookie,” Mobley said Tuesday. “I just want to keep doing it, keep getting better, keep making history.”
Some who watch the 20-year-old on a daily basis are entranced.
“Obviously, his length and athleticism, he can be everywhere on defense ... It’s crazy. His first year in the league, and he has that much confidence. He’s unbelievable,” Cavs third-year forward Dean Wade said Monday night.
“I find myself on the bench watching him in awe. This kid’s got it. He’s The One. I’m excited to see what happens the next few years, but right now the way he is playing is unbelievable.”
Kevin Love revives his career: 'Old Man' Kevin Love no 'energy vampire', becomes young Cavaliers' igniter after role change
Fourteen-year veteran Kevin Love, a five-time All-Star, has been just as impressed, saying earlier this season that he envisions Mobley becoming the league’s Defensive Player of the Year some day.
“That belief system and quiet confidence he has, it's incredibly impressive,” Love said Monday. “Obviously you see all the tools, you see his game, you see the potential and where he can go. But just his overall poise and temperament is very impressive for somebody that age.”
The Cavs (29-19) are 10 games over .500 for the first time since the 2017-18 season going into Wednesday night’s game against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and Mobley is a big reason why. He’s averaging 15 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 blocks — sixth in the league going into Tuesday’s action — and is shooting .510 from the field in 34.4 minutes.
This month, Mobley’s growth has been noted by coach J.B. Bickerstaff and point guard Darius Garland.
“To me, what's most impressive is to think back to the preseason and playing this team in the preseason and watching the difference in him tonight,” Bickerstaff said after a Jan. 2 home victory over the Indiana Pacers. “He was attack-minded and assertive and played through that physicality.
“When you get to your spot in high school and college, you're not met with that same physicality to get through that bump and into your shot. That's what Evan is seeing now. He gets to his spot, he takes the hit and he can still get to his shot and shoot it the way that he wants with his balance."
Mobley is shooting .549 from the field in 12 January games, the best month of his career, and has also posted highs in points (16.4) and assists (3.0). His biggest knock is that he's shooting .519 from the free-throw line in those 12 games.
On Saturday, Garland said Mobley’s biggest improvement has been in his confidence.
“He's just going out there hooping now,” Garland said. “He's not really thinking about anything. He's reading the defense ... and just getting it done really easy. It's cool to see him do that this early, and I'm super proud of him.”
Mobley has scored in double figures in a career-best 15 consecutive games, and the Cavs are 9-1 when he posts a double-double.
Mobley played 33 college games as a freshman and is coping well with the NBA’s perceived rookie wall.
“I feel like the rookie wall is just mental,” he said. “If you just stick with it and fight through adversity you can just fight through it mentally and get through it. Right now I feel good. I like the position we’re in as a team and everything.”
Point guard makes his All-Star case: Cavs guard Darius Garland has earned the league's attention, including LeBron James, Steph Curry
Mobley sounded genuinely appreciative of Wade’s “awe” comment, which included more praise.
“Rookie of the Year. I think his confidence is so high and we all believe in him. Nothing that kid can’t do. His talent is unbelievable,” Wade said.
“It means a lot. It shows that they trust me and believe in me and that just helps me keep going,” Mobley said.
Love said when he made his fourth 3-pointer in the third quarter of Monday's 95-93 victory over the Knicks and the crowd erupted it took him back to the Cavs’ string of four NBA Finals appearances from 2015-18. He wasn’t the only one thinking about what this Cavs team can do.
“Yeah, I definitely think about it a lot,” Mobley said. “I feel like we’re a great team and we have a lot of potential to be a great team overall. We’ve just got to keep working, keep getting better.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Cavs at www.beaconjournal.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.
Cavaliers at Pistons
Time: 6 p.m. Sunday
TV: Bally Sports Ohio
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley of USC matching legends' marks