The mistake the Cavs need to avoid
There is one final name that has been discussed as a candidate for the final roster spots, a player who represents one of the greatest divergences in recent NBA history between a player’s draft pedigree and his excitement level among fans. That player would be none other than Emoni Bates, the Cavaliers’ pick at No. 49 in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Bates was once the best player in high school, a surefire one-and-done wing who drew comparisons to Kevin Durant and Grant Hill. Then he reclassified to go to college one year early, had a disaster freshman season, and spent his sophomore year in a high-usage role at Eastern Michigan, failing to rehabilitate his draft stock in any meaningful way.
Even so, from the moment the Cavs brought Bates in for a pre-draft workout, Cavs fans started getting excited. They crossed their fingers that Bates would fall to pick No. 49, or implored their team to trade up to ensure they didn’t miss out on a talent like Emoni. When the Cavs did indeed take the Michigan native, fans were hyped.
That only continued when Bates hit shots in Las Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 17.2 points, six rebounds and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. Those running Summer League caught the Kool-Aid too, naming Bates Second-Team All-Summer League.
The love for Bates combines with the open roster spot to lead to the eventual conclusion: that the Cavaliers should sign Bates to a full roster contract, converting him off of the two-way deal he current holds. That would allow him to play in more games and carve out his spot in the rotation.
The problem with that plan? It would be a colossal mistake.