J.B. Bickerstaff says Evan Mobley ‘went to work’ as soon as 2022-23 season ended

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff revealed that big man Evan Mobley “went to work” as soon as last season ended in an interview with NBA.com.

Bickerstaff shared what Mobley learned from his first experience in the playoffs and how it can help him get better going forward.

“Just what life is like in the trenches,” Bickerstaff said of what Mobley learned. “The physicality that was there, the rules ‘changing’ a little bit for you, as far as what guys are able to do and play through. The shift from regular season is real. It’s possession by possession, trying to win four times against the same team, understanding how they pick apart your skill set, how you can take advantage of things you learn about them, and how you can make them play more toward their weaknesses.

“Those are things we’ve talked to Evan about over the summer. He is one of those guys who wants to be great, so he listens. As soon as the season was over, he was hungry for information, and he went to work.”

Mobley, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, has become one of the best defensive big men in the NBA already in his young career.

He finished the 2022-23 regular season averaging 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He also was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 1.5 blocks per game and leading the NBA in defensive win shares.

However, the young Cavs big man didn’t play his best in the Cavs’ first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks last season.

Cleveland lost in just five games to the Knicks, and New York made things tough on the inside for both Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

Mobley averaged just 9.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 blocks per game in the playoffs. He also shot just 45.8 percent from the field. During the regular season, Mobley shot 55.4 percent from the field, a far more impressive mark.

While the playoffs didn’t go the way Mobley or the Cavs wanted, it’s great to see that the former lottery pick was so eager to get back to work.

The Cavs are hoping that Mobley can continue to improve his game to create a dominant young core with Allen, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland.

If he does, Cleveland should be right back in the playoff mix in the 2023-24 season and beyond.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.