Career Projection for Cleveland Cavaliers’ Emoni Bates

Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Emoni Bates is still only 19 years old, and he won’t even turn 20 until January. Bates has plenty of room to grow, as well as a lot of years ahead of him. Even though he will only be a rookie next season, there is still a lot of excitement for what Bates has to bring to the table for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Considering he already was one of the best players in the whole Summer League only a few weeks ago is really impressive, not even considering he was the 49th overall pick. He has a lot of promise and potential when it comes to what his career may turn out to be, and he has one of the highest ceilings when it comes to players from the 2023 NBA Draft all together.

I was really high on Bates coming into the draft, and when he was selected by the Cavaliers, I was excited. He can be the steal of the 2023 NBA Draft, as being picked in the second round should put a chip on Bates’ shoulder. He has all the talent when it comes to scoring the ball, but everything else is questionable.

As was mentioned, he is still really young, so there is no reason that he cannot grow into a really talented player. He did get signed to a two-way contract, so chances are, he’s going to spend a lot of time on the Cavaliers’ G-League team, the Cleveland Charge. However, if he proves that he’s talented enough for a standard deal, it wouldn’t be surprising if Cleveland converts his contract to a standard deal during next season.

Emoni Bates has a lot of different perceptions of himself throughout NBA fandom. Some believe he can become a really great player, like myself. Some people believe that he won’t really pan out at all, and that he was a waste of a pick. Others are in the middle.

That begs the question. What will Bates’ career really look like?

Let’s go over his strengths. He’s a good shooter, as he shot 40.0% from distance on 7.5 attempts per game in the Summer League, which was promising. He also averaged 17.2 points per game, which is really good, too. He also didn’t miss a single free throw, shooting 100 percent from the line on 2.2 attempts per game. His shooting stroke is really fluid, and that is one of his strong suits in his game.

Also, Bates’ defense is not as terrible as it seemed in college. Yes, he isn’t necessarily Gary Payton, but he’s not a big liability on that end, either. That was a big downside of his game coming into the 2023 NBA Draft, so showing that he has made improvements on the defensive side is really nice, even if they were only during Summer League to this point.

Also, his ability to get in the passing lanes and to pick off passes is good to see. He’s not that great at getting on-ball steals, but he has a good reaction time on the defensive side of the ball. Even though he has a negative wingspan, his defense should not cause him to be played out of games. I doubt he’s ever going to be in All-Defensive Team conversations, but being a respectable defender is the bar for Bates as of now.

For a 6’9″ forward, he is very mobile, and he also has a great set of handles. He can handle the ball like a guard, and he is great in isolation.

Now, Emoni Bates is not the best at playmaking. He only averaged 1.2 assists per game in the Summer League. Furthermore, he’s also had the tendency to get tunnel vision, as he sometimes just wastes the shot clock using dribble moves.

Bates also has had a poor IQ when it comes to the shots he takes. He takes a lot of contested shots, which in turn, comes back to his tunnel vision problems. He’s great at making contested jumpers, yes that’s true, but making the extra pass instead of taking contested shots is probably better for the team.

With that all being said, he still has plenty of room to grow. I believe he will get better as time goes on, but as of now, he’s got a lot of things to work on. Now that brings up the point, what will his career look like?

Personally, if I had to compare Emoni Bates to a player, I’d have to go with Michael Porter Jr. from the Denver Nuggets. They’ve got a lot of similarities. The shooting ability as a tall small forward, plus the lack of consistency on defense and the lack of playmaking are really big in both of Porter Jr. and Bates’ games.

However, Bates should become a better player than Porter Jr., as Bates will be a better passer and defender than Porter Jr. is. Bates is a tremendous player, and has all the upside in the world.

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Now, will Bates become “the next Kevin Durant”? That’s unlikely, but crazier things have happened.