Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley has been out since Nov. 15 with a sprained elbow, but according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, he is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday against the Orlando Magic, assuming there are no setbacks in his recovery. That would put Mobley ahead of the initial 2-4 week timeline that came with his injury, and it’s a good thing for Cleveland as the Cavaliers desperately need Mobley back on the floor.
The Cavs haven’t won a game since Mobley got hurt, losing their past four to contending teams. That has pushed Cleveland down to 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings. With Collin Sexton out for the season and a number of other players missing time, the initial trajectory of this season looks similar to last year, in which a hot start gave Cleveland hope for a return to the playoffs before the house of cards collapsed as the season progressed. The silver lining last season was that their struggles landed them Mobley, who has been one of the best rookies to enter the NBA in several years.
He has averaged 14.5 points and eight rebounds in his 15 professional games, but it is his defense that has truly shined. Most rookies need time to learn how to function on that end of the floor, but Mobley, playing the hardest position in basketball defensively, has thrived. The combination of him and Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt has Cleveland ranked No. 11 on defense after finishing 25th a season ago.
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Cleveland will surely be cautious with Mobley if he deals with health issues throughout his rookie season. He is the future of the franchise, but it seems as though he’s made it through his first injury faster than the team could have hoped. Now, Mobley is set to return just in time to help the Cavaliers get back on track this season.