3 storylines to watch in Cleveland Cavaliers 2024 summer league

What to watch for in the reigning champs' summer campaign
2023 NBA Summer League - Championship
2023 NBA Summer League - Championship / Louis Grasse/GettyImages
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Last summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers claimed the franchise's first NBA Summer League Championship and will enter this year with numerous core players returning.

Ahead of their first game against the Orlando Magic on July 12, the Cavaliers will head to Las Vegas in a highly-touted display of the NBA's young talent on the rise. Incoming rookies and young prospects take full advantage of the opportunity in the spotlight, and Cleveland's squad has plenty of intrigue surrounding their core players.

The 2023 Summer League Cavs saw the rise of undrafted rookie Craig Porter, Jr. - a surprise contributor who earned a full contract in his first campaign. Porter's high-IQ style and two-way impact became a catalyst for Cleveland's run alongside Emoni Bates and Isaiah Mobley leading the way. With Bates and Porter confirmed to return, expectations are high for the summer. Additionally, this year's first-round pick for Cleveland Jaylon Tyson will join the squad, giving fans the first look at the newest Cavalier.

Yet, it is the surrounding storylines for each player's future following the Summer League that are cause for interest. With a plethora of new undrafted rookies to observe and Bates' continued journey to the NBA, Cavaliers fans will have plenty of reasons to pay close attention to the offseason showcase in Vegas.

Storyline 1 - Emoni Bates' year-two progression in Cleveland

In the 2023 NBA Draft, the Cavaliers selected a former top prospect in Emoni Bates. The Michigan-born wing showed potential to earn rotational minutes with the Cavs in the previous Summer League, but his regular season work failed to live up to the same standards. Bates only saw the court in desperate moments or garbage time under J.B. Bickerstaff. His negative defense, thin frame and lack of practice with the main roster made Bates' rookie season less-than-inspiring.

Still, the 6-foot-9 forward has one of the higher ceilings of any recent second-round pick. In his first year with the Cleveland Charge in the G League, Bates averaged 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 34.6 percent from deep on 10.7 attempts per game. At the season's onset, Bates' shooting rocketed above 40 percent at a similar volume. While he was not NBA-ready at the moment, the potential for Bates to achieve his dream of making the Association seemed fairly plausible in time.

If Bates can showcase consistent shooting again at a more controlled volume, his path to the main roster gets quite closer. Though his defensive impact still leaves much to be desired, if Bates can produce from the arc in the league and commit to a defensive system, then he could become a nightly contributor this season for the Cavaliers. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has suggested he will go deep into the bench to limit the load on stars in his inaugural season, potentially opening up minutes for Bates to carve out a role.

Additionally, one of the largest question marks surrounding Bates was his thin frame. At just 170 pounds last year, Bates did not display the size and strength needed to manage the physicality in the NBA. Cleveland's official roster this summer lists Bates at 190 pounds, a 20-pound leap over the year. If Bates can continue to put on size, his defensive shortcomings could be remedied to an extend with a stronger frame.

While Bates' NBA journey continues to improve, Cleveland's newest addition begins his this summer with a long collegiate resume behind him.