Players always know.
Players know who can play and who can't, who deserves the hype and who doesn't.
Zach LaVine discovered first-hand Wednesday night that the defensive reputation Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley is earning is no joke. Not that LaVine doesn't remain supremely confident or won't attack Mobley again.
But when LaVine missed a free throw, got the rebound and attacked the rim late in the third quarter of the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday, he learned how impressive Mobley's defense can be. Mobley basically swallowed LaVine's driving layup, one of Mobley's five blocked shots on the night. That Mobley followed the sequence by burying an 11-foot fadeaway at the other end made it more impressive.
"The kid’s good,’’ LaVine said via Zoom from Cleveland. "He’s really raw, but he’s got great defensive instincts. Obviously extremely long and can make shots around the basket. You could see why he really helps their team."
Mobley finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and two steals against the Bulls, becoming the first Cavaliers rookie since LeBron James in 2004 to record five blocks. According to Elias Sports, he also became the first rookie since Felton Spencer in 1991 to post at least 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and two steals while shooting 72.7 percent or better.
Mobley finished 8-for-11 and was a game-high plus-28 for the Cavaliers.
“I think they had eight blocks on the game, but that probably doesn't speak to the fact of how many different shots they altered or changed or had us second-guessing going in there,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.