NBA Draft: Cavs take shot-making swing in second round in recent mock

Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The 2023 NBA Playoffs were not too fun for Cleveland Cavaliers fans hoping to see the team head on a deep run. Cleveland was bounced in five games by the New York Knicks in the first round, and after an exciting regular season where the Cavaliers won 51 games and returned to the playoffs, they weren’t up to the task in the postseason.

Next season, one would hope the core players for Cleveland should be better-equipped for the playoffs, and their chemistry between Donovan Mitchell and Cleveland’s other players should improve. Having said that, the Cavaliers do need to add meaningful depth and/or an upgrade on the wing this offseason.

Aside from free agency and/or possible trades, the Cavaliers do not have a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, as that pick will be going to the Indiana Pacers, as part of the prior Caris LeVert trade. At this juncture, Cleveland is slated to only have a second-round pick, and that selection is currently projected to be in the middle of the second round, via the Golden State Warriors.

As it pertains to next season, Cleveland probably won’t be getting a key rotational contributor with that draft selection. It’s difficult to project if that pick will have much meaningful playing time in years ahead, but it’s an asset to have for the Cavs’ future, nonetheless.

So who might the Cavaliers go with at that spot, which is currently slated to be No. 49? A polished wing shooter, a lead guard prospect, or a player with point-forward potential could be sensible routes for Cleveland to go.

Maybe the Wine and Gold go with a developmental shot-maker there, though. Recently, in a mock from Bryan Kalbrosky of USA TODAY from last week, Cleveland went with wing prospect Emoni Bates.

A Bates selection by the Cavs in the 2023 NBA Draft would be predicted on betting his shot-making could eventually pop.

Bates was one of the highest-touted recruits in the country a few years ago, and there was tons of hype surrounding him going into the 2021-22 NCAA season, when he was set to suit up for the Memphis Tigers.

But, Bates couldn’t seem to find much of a rhythm with the Tigers when he was essentially the primary ball handler, resulting in him having 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest in what was only 18 games. He missed the seasons’ last 12 contests due to injury, and in the campaign, connected on 32.9 percent of his three-point attempts, and had a true shooting rate of 49.5 percent.

Then, heading into this now-past season, Bates proceeded to transfer and play the 2022-23 year at Eastern Michigan. The production uptick came for him, with 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per outing, and his minutes increased to 33.8 per contest, as Bates was healthy and appeared in 30 games.

However, with him playing much worse competition, the numbers were more so juiced based on his usage and that caveat.

His true shooting rate was a bit better at 52.8 percent, and his three-point clip was basically the same at 33.0 percent, on 7.7 attempts per contest, which was nearly double that of in his freshman year at Memphis.

With Bates, there was some concern as well from an off-floor perspective going into his season at Eastern Michigan, as near campus, he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering ID marks on a firearm, then per a report from The Associated Press.

He could end up facing prison for multiple years, but he was eventually inserted into a diversion program as he hadn’t had a record, and the criminal conviction was later dismissed, as a school statement later confirmed. Regardless, it was a tough way to begin his season, clearly.

He did have his share of moments for the Eagles in the 2022-23 season, on the plus side, and maybe a Bates selection could be in the cards for Cleveland after all.

Moving forward, as we mentioned, a Bates selection in the second round would be an upside play.

Bates is raw at this point, which is to be expected. Something to also keep in mind was how Bates reclassified, and wasn’t ultimately eligible to keep in last years’ draft. He just turned 19 in January, and he’s still going to take a while to mature physically and likely mentally, as many young prospects do as it is.

Even with the trials and tribulations for him over his two collegiate seasons, and last year, Bates being the key cog on a team that went just 8-23, maybe the Cavaliers could be onto something big here, if Bates is there. There’s some rationale to Kalbrosky having this be the result for the Wine and Gold in the mid-second round.

Bates has a ways to go to be a competent defender, and at 6-foot-9, he is really thin at just 190 pounds. He is not a plus athlete, either, and shot selection is going to be a point of emphasis for his development.

However, Bates is definitely a player that could potentially be a microwave scorer, given his ability to shoot off the bounce with a variety of moves. And if he can round out physically and make strides to work more within the flow of offense at the NBA level and settle more into a wing role, he could have a very high ceiling.

Granted, there’s a ton of ifs that would come with a Bates selection.

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Having said that, he was so highly-touted for a reason heading into college, and for a Cavs team that could use perimeter shooting and more wing production, perhaps it could be a meaningful swing by Koby Altman and company for down the road.