The hype train is out of control with Emoni Bates, but his shot is so smooth he’s only feeding the fire each time he steps onto the court. He has poor passing vision, his lack of athleticism makes him a poor finisher if any defender is in the paint, and he is a major defensive liability, even against third-stringers.
But that shot. Bates has clearly been given the green light by J.B. Bickerstaff and he never looked back. The first four times he touched the ball he took four shots, including an ambitious step-back 3-pointer that went in. He ended the game with 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-6 from deep, in just 12 minutes. That included a contest on defense that he ran through, leaking out in transition for a hit-ahead dunk.
On the penultimate possession for the Cavaliers, he took and hit a 3 to cut the lead to 3, mirroring his go-ahead 3 from Tuesday night. If nothing else, Bates is entirely unafraid of the moment. If he continues to shoot this well he may force the Cavs to try him out in regular season games at some point this season. As it is, he may be coming for the G League record for made 3-pointers in a season.
Craig Porter Jr. is nothing more than the emergency point guard right now as an undrafted rookie on a two-way contract, but he continues to look good whenever he is on the court. He ran the offense during the Cavs’ 12-0 run to close the game, tallying two assists, two baskets and two fouls drawn in his 7.5 minutes (going 3-for-4 from the line). He rebounded his only missed free throw himself for a layup.
Porter has good size and is a tough defender, is not afraid of crashing the glass, and seems like the kind of player who makes winning plays whenever he is on the court. He’ll need to work on his shot and tighten up his passing (he had a great pass to Mobley on the roll late in the fourth, but on the final possession a poor pass was picked off), but he looks like a player who can earn the backup point guard job early in his career.