NBA

LeBron James on Evan Mobley after 23 points in LA: Cavs got a good one!

By Sports Desk October 30, 2021

LeBron James praised Evan Mobley after facing the Cleveland Cavaliers rookie for the first time but said it was "getting more weird by the day" playing his son's former opponent.

James, back from an ankle injury, marked the 18th anniversary of his NBA debut with a game-high 26 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 113-101 win on Friday. Mobley, who led the Cavs with 23 points, is only 20 years old.

Indeed, LeBron's previous experience of this year's third overall draft pick was seeing Mobley take on Bronny James in high school.

Mobley then spent a single season at USC but has settled quickly in his rookie year in the NBA.

Friday's performance, in his sixth game, brought his most points so far, along with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and, for the second game running, zero turnovers.

With double-figure points in every game and two double-doubles already, Mobley is averaging 15.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.3 turnovers for the 3-3 Cavs.

James, who was a first overall pick for Cleveland in 2003, winning a single title in two spells with the team, said of Mobley: "He is going to be a damn good basketball player in this league.

"It's so crazy, because he was just playing against my son a couple of years ago. It's weird, and it's getting more weird by the day. He's playing against my son in the playoffs two years ago, and obviously we saw what he did in the tournament, just electrifying.

"They've got a good one. Cleveland has a good one. They've done a great job over the years in the draft, I'll say."

James was returning after two games out due to soreness to the same ankle he injured last year as he was restricted to a career-low 42.9 per cent of possible minutes in the regular season.

"I can definitely feel it a little bit right now, but that's just the adrenaline wearing off," he said. "It feels a lot better post-game today than it did post-game Sunday when we played Memphis."

James linked up effectively with Russell Westbrook, with three of the point guard's five assists coming from passes to the four-time MVP. They have now combined seven times for the year, with James the scorer each time.

Westbrook is having to adjust in LA. His career usage rate is 33.6 per cent (since the statistic was tracked in 2014-15), peaking with 41.7 per cent in 2016-17, but has reached a new low this year with 28.4 per cent, sharing the ball with two superstars in James and Anthony Davis.

James praised his new team-mate's early work, though, saying: "It's all about progressing and understanding the playmaker that you're playing with, understanding his vision, his awareness.

"I don't think he gets enough credit for his passing ability, being able to see plays before they happen. For me, as a receiver, it's my job to be in a position where the quarterback can just make a pass and I've got to go get it.

"Running the lane with Russ, he's usually out in front of the pack, because of his pace and his intensity, but when you run with him, you're rewarded."

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