6. Drafted Emoni Bates
Drafted 49th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft
Drafting with the 49th pick in the draft should lower expectations a significant amount. Very few players selected that late end up making a difference, and many don’t even make NBA rosters. Whoever the Cavs chose was unlikely to amount to much of anything.
Even so, the Cavaliers took a low-upside, basement-floor swing when they drafted Emoni Bates out of Eastern Michigan. Bates was once a high-school phenom, dominating the competition and looking like the next top-tier prospect. Then he reclassified and played college basketball, where he was revealed to be little more than a smooth-shooting chucker with little else to his game.
Bates has always been a high-volume on-ball scorer, and he’s only marginally decent at that role. In the NBA he has no chance of making a roster if he’s trying to be that player. He has a smooth jumper, and his path to a rotation spot anywhere down the line depends on him leaning into that. His passing vision is terrible, he’s a defensive nightmare, he has poor shot selection and doesn’t finish inside.
To add insult to injury, Bates’ name value has tricked the Cavs and their fan base into thinking that Bates has a ton of upside, and that drafting him was a “high-upside” move. It’s not, because Bates can’t be the player he was in high school. It’s physically impossible given his frame and complete lack of skill development. This was a whiff by the Cavaliers, and he’ll likely go from a two-way contract to out of the league in a few seasons.