Why Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ young core are a perfect fit

Donovan Mitchell and Cleveland Cavaliers C Evan Mobley (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
Donovan Mitchell and Cleveland Cavaliers C Evan Mobley (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /

Building a team that can contend in the playoffs is the focus for most teams during their off-season. Trades and free agency signings help squads increase their post-season odds before players hit the court—enticing fans to support their hometown favorites. As the season continues to grow closer, speculation concerning the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pre-season projection has captured most of the recent headlines.

Success in the playoffs has been hard to find for Cleveland. Without the help of Akron legend LeBron James, the Cavaliers have failed to reach the playoffs since 1998. In 2018, LeBron’s decision to relocate to Los Angeles caused Cleveland’s front office to model a plan for the squad’s rebuilding process.

At the end of the 2020 season, the Cavs finished with the fifth worst record in the league—positioning the squad to land a lottery pick. Earning a top-three pick in the 2021 draft helped Cleveland’s front office begin its rebuilding process.


Their decision to select Evan Mobley – an athletic six-foot-eleven center with skills on the defensive block – set the stage for the franchise’s future.

Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers – Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ young stars are ready to take over.

Last season, an impressive season from their rookie helped the Cavs assert themselves as a defensive team. Mobley’s 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game caused driving opponents to reconsider driving down the lane. His impact on the floor helped other developing players like Darius Garland find their groove on the hardwood as well.

Cleveland’s 2019 first-round pick improved his career averages – making Cleveland a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Adding depth to a contending team has been the goal for President Koby Altman and his front office. In an off-season where Kevin Durant, Rudy Gobert, and Kyrie Irving held trade discussions, the Cavs sought to find their final piece to the puzzle.

Trading with the Utah Jazz gave Cleveland a star to build around and three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps were used as trade capital to acquire All-star guard Donovan Mitchell. According to ESPN’s Adrian Worjanowski, the Cavs also sent Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and rookie wing Ochai Agbaji as part of the blockbuster trade.

The Cleveland Cavaliers guard duo will take over the Eastern Conference

Steady improvements in the win column each year have helped Cleveland fans stand behind their team. In 2021, the Cavs finished the regular season with a 44-38 record – a 22-game improvement from the season before. Contributions from Garland catalyzed the team’s success, and his 21.7 points per game carried the Cavs into the play-in tournament.

Mitchell’s ability to score is among the most dangerous in the league, but that alone is not the source of excitement for this season. In fact, it’s been a while since fans in Cleveland could cheer for a dynamic group of young NBA stars that represented their city.

Next. Do the Cavaliers have the NBA's best young core?. dark

Moreover, Cleveland’s revitalized roster should bring energy to the Rocket Mortgage Field House, and as anticipation rises for the regular season, all eyes should be on Mitchell and the Cavaliers.