The 2021-22 Kia NBA All-Rookie First Team:
🏀 Scottie Barnes (Toronto)
🏀 Cade Cunningham (Detroit)
🏀 Jalen Green (Houston)
🏀 Evan Mobley (Cleveland)
🏀 Franz Wagner (Orlando) pic.twitter.com/OkUka9fkRB
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 19, 2022
Additionally, Cunningham, Barnes, and Mobley were all unanimous selections for the honors.
Honestly, it’s just nice to see a Cavs player finally cross the finish line in the NBA Awards season.
Mobley fell just short of rookie of the year, Coach J.B. Bickerstaff for Coach of the Year, Kevin Love for Sixth Man, and President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman for Exec of the Year.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, the fact that so many Cavs were shortlisted for awards is impressive.
But it’s also fun to win.
Fans on social were pumped (though not surprised) for the former USC Trojan:
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) May 19, 2022
Mobley was a unanimous decision for First Team All-Rookie. https://t.co/CN0wz9mr8X
— Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan) May 19, 2022
🏀 21st rookie in franchise history to earn All-Rookie honors; 12th to receive a First Team selection
🏆 October/November Kia Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month
🌟 Clorox Rising Stars and Taco Bell Skills Challenge Champ https://t.co/TAjcah1t3A
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 19, 2022
No way!!! @evanmobley is a first teamer?!? I never would have guessed!
Congratulations, Evan! https://t.co/MH0kYelp0m
— Sir CC (@CavsSirCC) May 19, 2022
— Joe Gabriele (@CavsJoeG) May 19, 2022
A Sign of the Future?
Rookie First Team honors aren’t a surefire guarantee that a player will have a legendary career.
Most of those guys evolved into contributors down the line, but none were bonafide superstars.
Nonetheless, the recent track record for the First Team is significantly better.
It’s important to remember that the award isn’t a “projections” award.
In fact, none of the awards are.
These honors go to players who had excellent seasons.
That helps explain why there’s so much variance in the First Team’s past.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we can officially say that Evan Mobley will not be one of those “questionable decisions” down the line.
Barring any catastrophic injury or Markelle Fultz-ian yips, Mobley will be a league fixture for years to come.
That’s because what Mobley provides is so important in today’s game.
Mobley can just as easily slot in the front court with Jarrett Allen as he can operate at the top of the key with the ball in his hands.
And while I don’t want to put too much stock into offseason shooting clips, here’s the obligatory “hey look at this player improving his offseason game” take:
Evan working 👀 pic.twitter.com/bPTUCyObG0
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) May 15, 2022
Whether he improves as a shooter or not, at least the work ethic is there.
There should be no fear that a dropoff is on the horizon; if anything, the parity is as high as it’s been in several seasons, with any of the Mavericks, Warriors, Celtics, or Heat having a legitimate argument for becoming Finals champs.
And this past draft class’ excellence is also a promising sign for the league.
Not only was Mobley fantastic, but Scottie Barnes did indeed help turbocharge Toronto’s mini-rebuild.
Cade Cunningham is giving Pistons fans a reason to dust off their jerseys since the days of Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton.
The same goes for Wagner in Orlando and Green in Houston.
Not only that, but the basketball played by these young stars is just plain fun.
It’s so much more compelling than the slow, cobbling version of the game from fifteen years ago.
In short, there should be lots of excitement, not just in Cleveland.