Expectation #2: Find a role within a professional offense
Throughout his basketball career, Emoni Bates has often been the dominant player on the court. However, this has led to him developing bad habits, such as excessive dribbling, as he always had the ball in his hands. At the NBA level, particularly with the Cavs, there are many more talented players, and Bates needs to find ways to contribute beyond his accustomed style.
Bates is a prime candidate to become a two-way player for the Cleveland Charge this year. If they choose to divide his playing time, they should be cautious about how he is utilized in the G-League. While he may be capable of putting up impressive scoring numbers, it is more important for him to play within the flow of the offense rather than being the sole focus.
Regardless of where Bates spends most of his time this season, improving his off-ball play and adapting to shorter stints with the ball will help him define his role in the NBA. Prioritizing catch-and-shoot opportunities and seeking effective looks with limited dribbles are areas that Bates should focus on throughout the season. Before showcasing his remarkable shot-making ability, Bates must demonstrate his ability to fit in and enhance an offense without relying heavily on ball dominance.
Picking only 49th overall is never easy, and I love the swing for the fences the Cavs took. While Bates has some work to do before he can contribute to the rotation consistently, it’s rare to find this much upside this late in the draft.