CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A little more than 24 hours after an MRI confirmed a sprained right elbow, Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley was back on the court. In a lesser capacity anyway.
Already ruled out Wednesday night, expected to be sidelined approximately 2-4 weeks, Mobley went through an all-left-handed workout inside Brooklyns Barclays Center.
If you cant go right might as well go left, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff joked with cleveland.com.
On Saturday, Mobley took another step forward in his recovery. He was able to test his elbow injury, back using his dominant right hand. After practice concluded and many of his teammates were already in the locker room, Mobley was working with team trainers at the basket nearest Bickerstaffs office. Mobley started with light, right-handed shooting -- baseline jumpers, free throws, mid-rangers. Even though the workout wasnt anything extensive, it was a noticeable change from days earlier in Brooklyn.
Then, the promising youngster did some resistance tests, extending both arms against a padded stand-up bag. He finished the workout by once again switching to the left hand, flipping in jump hooks, bank shots and floaters.
I love to see Evan on the floor no matter what hes doing, Bickerstaff said with a smile. Hes making progress. Its just a matter of the healing and the pain tolerance and those things, but we wont do anything to jeopardize him long term. As long as he progresses, well keep moving ahead.
The Cavs are scheduled to practice again Sunday before hosting the Nets on Monday night. That will be Mobleys third missed game -- exactly one week since the injury occurred when he got caught jostling for position with Boston backup center Enes Kanter. The Cavs have two more home games this coming week -- Phoenix and Orlando -- before a three-game road trip.
Based on the organizations initial timeline, Mobley could be back by the end of this month -- if he tracks closer to two weeks as opposed to four.
The Cavs typically take a cautious approach with injuries, especially when it comes to members of their core. Mobley will be no exception. Even though the undermanned Cavs have slipped into a funk and miss his contributions at both ends, they will handle Mobleys return with care, not wanting to risk a setback. They wont shortcut the process, considering the big picture and making sure hes physically ready first.
At the very least, Saturday afternoon pointed to a player who is recovering well.
In 15 games, Mobley is averaging 14.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. At the time of the injury, Mobley was considered the Rookie of the Year frontrunner.
Ive talked to many of my peers in the league and we always talk about new guys coming into the league or who is having a good season and everything, just such high praise for Evan. Not only on this side, but around the league. Coaches as well, said veteran forward Kevin Love, who spoke about Mobleys youth allowing him to respond faster than most. They all want to know what the young fella, new draft pick is like. Cant say enough about Ev. He comes in and works. He has that quiet confidence about him. But he has all the tools in the world to be really special and I think we can all agree on that.
Defensively, hes a guy that I think in the future is going to be All-Defense and has a chance to be Defensive Player of the Year. Then offensively, and I mean this in a good way, hes still pretty raw, so hes going to keep getting better and finding ways once hes gone through the league a second time, how he can get better. Hes still a baby. He cant even buy me a drink yet. The crazy thing is the upside. We have such good dudes and hes one of them.
The injury-riddled Cavaliers have lost three straight. On Friday night, the team announced Collin Sextons season-ending meniscus surgery. Starting small forward Lauri Markkanen has missed nine games while in the leagues health and safety protocols. Markkanen practiced Saturday afternoon and is expected to play Monday night. Center Jarrett Allen has also been sidelined for three consecutive because of an illness not related to COVID-19. Like Markkanen, Allen was back working with his teammates Saturday afternoon. If all continues to go well, he will be in the lineup against his old team.
Mobley is behind that duo when it comes to a return-to-play timeline. But whenever hes cleared, either later this month or at some point in December, Cleveland would be closer to full strength -- a thought that sparks teamwide confidence.
I feel like more than any other time since 2018 we really, truly have an identity and we havent forced any type of culture, its just manifested itself with the character guys that we have, the quality players and ability to play different ways while still maintaining who we are, Love said.
I think all of that is an accumulation of where were headed and we see it. But we know that were not there yet. I think taking those steps, whether it be every day or every week within our schedule against very good teams, that were going to understand were capable and we can beat anybody, especially when were at full strength.
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