This season’s race for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award was one of the closest in history, and according to the fan base of one team in particular, perhaps a little controversial.
Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes ended up winning the honor, and he had a terrific season, averaging 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field.
He helped his team overachieve, as it won 48 games and made the playoffs, even though many pundits predicted it would win considerably fewer contests.
One of those people who feel that way is his teammate, Kevin Love.
“I thought he should’ve won Rookie of the Year.”
K-Love talks Evan Mobley’s growth amid a competitive ROY race this season
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 13, 2022
Mobley Made A Great Case For The Rookie of the Year Award
Mobley was the third player chosen in last summer’s NBA draft, and in some ways, the Cavs may have lucked out.
Throughout the season, the Southern California native flashed his potential and had scouts and fans alike falling head over heels in love with his game.
Although his offensive game is still somewhat raw, he has shown some ability to get his own shot off the bounce and work in the low post.
— Ahmed🇸🇴/Kendrick Lamar’s Publicist (@big_business_) March 14, 2022
He is already a tremendous finisher at or near the rim, and he has become quite a target for Cleveland’s guards, in particular Darius Garland.
EVAN MOBLEY WITH THE HAMMER ON GIANNIS 💥 pic.twitter.com/ac756yZ7TQ
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 27, 2022
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mobley’s game, at least right now, is his defense.
He averaged 0.8 steals and 1.7 blocked shots per game, and he made it clear that he is not a player anyone should challenge at or near the rim.
Holy crap, Evan Mobley pic.twitter.com/UTQ5PR8hki
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) April 16, 2022
His 3-point shot is poor right now, but as the season went on, he showed improvement in his perimeter shot, which makes it seem he can eventually become a solid 3-point marksman.
Many scouts have said that Mobley has superstar potential, and some have compared him to Los Angeles Lakers superstar big man Anthony Davis or even Kevin Garnett, who is a Hall of Famer and a 15-time All-Star.
In fact, one former NBA player has said that, of all current players, Mobley will be the best in the league in five years.
“Evan Mobley, and it won’t be close,” the player told The Athletic. “… I swear, the kid’s going to be a superstar in two more years. Mobley is unbelievable. Watch how he does things and his decision-making and his reach, his ability to see where the ball is. When you see it, you’re going to say, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ When he plays against other rookies, you can see the disparity.”
The argument to be made for Mobley being the Rookie of the Year over Barnes is likely the defensive end.
Barnes may have the potential to become a good defender, but in at least some ways, Mobley is already there, and he helped anchor a Cavs defense that ranked seventh in defensive rating and fifth in points allowed.
Maybe Barnes deserved the Rookie of the Year award, but someday soon, Mobley could very well win the Most Valuable Player or Most Improved Player award.