Donovan Mitchell says Evan Mobley can be top-5 NBA player: ‘I don’t think he really understands how good he can be’

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Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell recently had an encouraging prediction about Evan Mobley’s ceiling that will surely excite fans.

“It’s crazy — and I don’t mean this in a bad way — but I don’t think he really understands how good he can be,” Mitchell said of Mobley. “He can be really special, and he can take us to a completely different level. I personally believe he can be a top-five player in this league.”

The second-year big man is starting to grow into the potential that the Cavs organization saw in him when it drafted him with No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 draft.

The coaching staff and his teammates have been reiterating that Mobley can become the team’s most important player. They have even been empowering him to assume a larger role, such as when point guard Darius Garland told the 7-footer that Cleveland is his team.

Opposing players have also taken notice of Mobley’s potential. Recently, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo offered high praises for the University of Southern California product, stating that “he can be better than me.”

At the moment, Mobley’s statistical production doesn’t exactly scream superstar numbers. He is averaging 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest this season. However, coach J.B. Bickerstaff recently defended him, expressing that not all of his contributions can be tracked in the stat sheet.

“It’s something that we should all watch and pay attention to,” Bickerstaff told Right Down Euclid recently. “A conversation we have with Evan all the time is that Evan has the opportunity to be the most impactful player on the floor every night. No matter what his numbers are or what they say, there’s the intangibles and there’s just the overall impact of his presence making the right plays at the right time.

“It’s his two-way ability to protect the paint. Most of the time, when guys see him in there, they don’t even go in there. There’s not a stat for that. When he catches the ball and he makes the hockey assist, they don’t track that in our box scores. His presence in the paint when he’s rolling, people have to go to him and it creates an open opportunity for somebody else. They don’t track that. They don’t put that in the stat sheet. Evan’s main thing is, and I’ve been impressed by it, the only thing he cares about is helping us win and doing whatever it takes to make us win.”

Mitchell is also preaching patience for the young power forward, declaring that the Cavs’ core players will have plenty of time to grow together in the following years.

“We’re not asking him to have everything today,” Mitchell added. “We’re going to grow as a group through the years. I don’t even think we’ve scratched the surface, to be honest.”

Even so, Cleveland has already started to show that it is one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. It has a 13-8 record and ranks third in the East behind the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavs are on pace to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign.

Of course, there have been some growing pains for the young group, such as when they had a five-game losing streak right after stringing off eight consecutive wins. That kind of inconsistency is understandable for a team that has added a new star into the fold in the offseason and has already been beset by the injury bug.

Fortunately for the Cavs, Mobley has shown consistency during the first quarter of the season and has not yet missed a match. Hopefully, the 21-year-old can continue to improve and remain healthy for the remainder of the campaign.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.