Expectation #1: Get stronger
The pure jump shooting and natural scoring ability of Emoni Bates are unquestionable. However, if he wants to consistently see playing time, he will need to focus on getting stronger. While maintaining proper mechanics is important to his shooting, finding ways to increase his strength is crucial for becoming a capable defender. Bates lacks elite burst or jumping ability, and his height can compensate for that if he possesses enough strength. It’s difficult to envision Bates consistently defending NBA backcourts, making strength the key to being a playable defender in the NBA.
In addition to improving his defense, increased strength would enhance his offensive skillset. Bates struggles to finish at the rim, and added strength can help him exploit smaller defenders and generate easier scoring opportunities in transition.
Given his young age, Bates has experienced significant changes in his environment and has had a turbulent journey in recent years. Finding consistency in his surroundings and working with professional trainers while maintaining a healthy diet should prepare him physically and mentally in due time. Whether he spends time on the bench for the Cavs or earns significant minutes in the G-League, prioritizing strength during his rookie year can unlock numerous possibilities for his second season and beyond.