Stud No. 1: Emoni Bates
The most-discussed player heading into the Cavaliers’ Summer League was Emoni Bates, the former five-star recruit whose terrible two years in college saw him tumble to the 49th pick in last month’s draft. Fans of the Cavs (and likely the front office as well) were watching Bates closely in Las Vegas to see which version of the player they would get.
They got every version they could think of, not simply game-to-game but play-to-play. Bates’ overall stat line in the title game leaps off the page as a positive: 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, with a pair of 3-pointers and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.
Bates certainly had some electric moments in the game, including a breakaway dunk in the first quarter that punctuated the Cavs’ early-game demolition of the Rockets. After tallying just three assists total in five games he had a whopping four against Houston, and his best pass didn’t count as it resulted in free throws.
The other side of Bates’ profile was on display, too, as he had a number of jarring blunders as well. He pulled a heat-check multiple times in the game, pulling up for a wild shot despite the excellent offense the team was generating when they ran their sets. He lunged wildly for steals multiple times and did the same crashing the offensive glass when he had no realistic hope of getting a rebound, in both cases putting himself out of the play and leading to points for the Rockets.
Bates had a good game and a good summer session. He wasn’t transcendent, he didn’t deliver on any upside he brought from his high school days and he didn’t prove his doubters wrong. The Emoni Bates experience continued to be a wild ride, and thankfully for the Cavs, the arrow pointed up more than down for the title game.