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Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 12 – Evan Mobley

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Evan Mobley is just 22 years old but is already one of the NBA’s best defenders. Last season, he was awarded NBA All-Defensive First Team. The seven-foot and 215-pound forward has great length, agility, quick hands, and the ability to anticipate plays. He’s everything you want in a modern-day two-way forward. Mobley can guard the perimeter in switches, protect the paint as a help defender, and everything in between.

Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 12 – Evan Mobley

Mobley’s Defensive Impact

Multiple statistics support Mobley’s defensive prowess. He averaged 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 0.8 steals on 55/22/67 shooting splits. Regarding advanced statistics, Mobley had a +1.6 defensive RAPTOR rating last season, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Additionally, Mobley finished in the top 10 in win shares at 17.73, ahead of some of the league’s top stars. Lastly, Mobley was in the top ten in real plus-minus at 6.76, ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s already an elite defensive player who impacts winning at a high level for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They made a great selection in the 2021 NBA Draft, picking the forward out of USC with the third overall pick. 

Next Developmental Step

Entering his third season, the sky is the limit for the forward. Mobley is clearly already an elite defensive talent. The next step he can make in his development towards becoming an NBA All-Star is on the offensive end. Mobley can improve his shooting, as evidenced by his 21.6 3P% and 67.4 FT%.

Cleveland has Jarrett Allen at center, another big man who can’t stretch the floor beyond the arc. Mobley should continue developing his three-point shooting to become a more consistent threat and floor spacer, allowing more room for Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell to operate.

Fit With Cleveland

While Mobley may shrink the floor a bit, he’s also the perfect defensive complementary piece for superstar guards Garland and Mitchell. While both are elite offensive threats capable of putting up 40 points on any given night, they’re also undersized guards who are limited defensively.

Mobley is the perfect pairing with the Garland and Mitchell duo. He is a great help defender, but he can impact the offensive end of the floor offensively without demanding the ball or having many plays drawn up for him.

However, for Mobley to take that next jump to become an All-Star, he must become a more reliable go-to scorer. Outside of Garland and Mitchell, the Cavaliers don’t have many offensive weapons. Mobley must take that next developmental jump to become a third go-to scoring option.

The Last Word on Evan Mobley

If he can increase his scoring from 16 to 20 points a night while improving his three-point and free-throw shooting, then Mobley can undoubtedly become an All-Star soon.

The No. 12 ranking may end up being too low for the NBA All-Defensive First Team forward. He just needs to hone in on his offensive potential. The Cavaliers have a foundational piece and defensive anchor to build around for the next decade.


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