J.B. Bickerstaff On Getting Evan Mobley ‘More Involved’ Offensively

Cleveland Cavaliers Coach J.B Bickerstaff described the first week of Evan Mobley’s sophomore season as an extended preseason. 

The USC product suffered an ankle injury and was forced to sit out at the end of training camp and Cleveland’s first three preseason games. Because of that untimely injury, Mobley lost the valuable opportunity to play alongside the combination of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, and Caris LeVert.

Without sizable time to find a rhythm post-injury and to build chemistry with the Cavs’ new backcourt in Garland and Mitchell, Mobley feels like he has “gotten off to kind of a slow start,” per The Athletic

Following Sunday’s OT win against the Washington Wizards, the 21-year-old hadn’t taken double-digit shot attempts this season. On Sunday, Mobley shot 28.6 percent from the field and finished with two field goals. 

After Tuesday’s practice, Bickerstaff said, “we’ve gotta get him more involved.” 

“Again, it’s a mix of time together and where he was in the preseason and then him coming back and then Darius being gone. There are some things that we’re still working through. He’s so skilled and so talented, and we want him involved in our offense in a bunch of different ways.”

Bickerstaff likes the shots Mobley is taking but wants him to take more. The Cavs believe Mobley is “the guy who can help take [them] to the next level.” In his rookie season, the center averaged 15 points on 50.8 percent from the field, 25 percent from three, and 66.2 percent from the free-throw line. For Cleveland to rise to a championship-level team, they need Mobley to continue to improve his strength and consistency. 

“Evan’s basketball IQ is what we teach every single day,” Bickerstaff said during training camp. “We were talking about teaching guys how to play basketball; that’s what Evan excels at naturally. He just understands the game at a higher level than most second-year players do, and even as a rookie.”

Mobley is looking to play with more freedom and ease on offense, becoming a simultaneous creator and attacker. 

At Wednesday morning’s shootaround, he said he is “going to stay consistent with it.” 

“I know shots are going to start falling,” Mobley said “And I’m going to be in a better position to take those shots as well.”

On Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic, Mobley seemed to have regained some of his flow. The second-year center finished with 22 points on 9-15 shooting, including 17 points in the second half. 

“He was determined to help us win this game,” Bickerstaff said. “We know what he’s capable of. We believe in him a lot. And he was attack-minded, and he went out to prove a point. I think he did that.”

Teammate Dean Wade added: “every time he touched a ball, he’s looking to be aggressive. That’s always good to see, especially out of him. Sometimes he goes to make a play but doesn’t look to score, and I think tonight he was always looking to score, and that’s what we needed him to do. So wh n he plays like that, we’re a hard team to beat because he’s going to take at least two guys to stop him. And he’s obviously a great passer, so he can make those passes out. Tonight was exciting to see him just attack every time he touched it. It was fun.”

Mobley’s bounce-back game helped the Cavs seal a 103-92 win over the Magic and earned him the infamous Junkyard Dog Chain award for the night.

While he may have gotten off to a slower start to the season, Mobley looks to build on his 22-point performance against the Boston Celtics tomorrow night.