Emoni Bates’ early focus is on ‘winning,’ which is encouraging for Cavs

Emoni Bates, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Emoni Bates, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

Going into this season, Emoni Bates is an intriguing prospect to have for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He did underachieve in his collegiate career at Memphis, and had ups and downs at Eastern Michigan, but Cleveland taking him where they did was sensible at No. 49 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Bates is a talented player, and for a player that’s set to be on a two-way deal this coming year, he could be quite the steal for the Cavaliers. He is a gifted scorer and shot-maker, and should benefit from further developmental chances with the Cleveland Charge as a rookie.

That being said, objectively, Bates does have to clean up some things over the course of the coming campaign, gradually get functionally stronger and take the challenge defensively. He’ll likely spend his share of time with the Charge, in this situation, which was to be expected.

Bates could seemingly have some early-season chances with the Cavaliers, but whether or not that plays out, his approach in training camp is encouraging.

Bates recently mentioned how his mindset is all about “winning,” and touched on his defensive growth and focusing on details to help his respective teams, whether that’s with the Cavaliers or with the Charge in meaningful minutes. This from Bates was h/t Spencer Davies of Fan Nation.

This is the right buy-in from Bates, who Cavs fans have to just be patient with.

Bates has plenty of potential as a scorer, and in Summer League with the Cavaliers in Las Vegas over the summer, his shooting made a big difference for Cleveland.

In Cleveland’s six games, Bates had 17.2 points per contest and shot 40.0 percent from three-point range. He tacked on an average of 6.0 rebounds in those games as well, and was making winning plays with his off-ball contributions for Cleveland for the Summer Cavs, who won their first SL title in the process.

Going into his rookie campaign, it remains to be seen if Bates will again have early-season looks, as there’s plenty of others that will involved at the 2 and 3 spots, and he’ll have to demonstrate in camp he’s making progress defensively.

That was not an area of strength of his in college, but within the Cavs’ infrastructure, he could make strides there in due time. If dialed in off-ball, he can make some plays on defense in a scenario where there’s not tons of pressure on him offensively.

Now, as was emphasized before, on offense, Bates has tons of potential as a shooter and shot-maker for the Cavaliers, who were in the right to bet on his upside in the mid-to-late second round.

He had shooting inconsistencies in college, and shot selection is an area Cleveland will have to continually stress with him, however, with meaningful developmental reps with the Charge and him at times playing off of the Cavs’ key threats, he could potentially fill it up from the perimeter.

He’s the type of wing that can really benefit from the NBA game, Cleveland possibly looking to push pace more it seems, and as a 6-foot-9 shotmaker, he can get a variety of different shots off. Projecting out long term, Bates could establish himself down the road as Cleveland’s X-factor.

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Overall, though, just ahead of the beginning of Cavaliers preseason action set to begin next week, the 19-year-old Bates’ approach and primary focus on impacting winning basketball is an encouraging start.