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Evan Mobley returns to practice on Thursday, will play against Magic

2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers poses for a portrait during 2022 NBA Media Day on September 26, 2022 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nick Falzerano/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

After spraining his right ankle on October 3rd, Evan Mobley returned to practice on Thursday and will make his preseason debut in Cleveland’s preseason finale on Friday in Orlando.

Unfortunately, Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen will all be getting the night off and won’t be joining him in his debut. Since this will be Cleveland’s final preseason game, their new core will all play together in a game for the first time in the season opener in Toronto on October 19th.

As a rookie last season, Mobley averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 blocks in 33.8 minutes per game across 69 regular season appearances. In the team’s two losses in the play-in tournament, he averaged 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He finished second in the voting for Rookie of the Year behind Scottie Barnes.

Now, with the addition of Donovan Mitchell, they have three All-Stars and much higher expectations. Mobley is going to need to make the big leap that many second-year players do for the Cavaliers to have a chance to contend in the loaded Eastern Conference.

The starting small forward job is still up for grabs, though it seems like Caris LeVert is the favorite to join the core four in the starting unit.