Emoni Bates is Talented Risk Cavs Were Willing to Take

Emoni Bates has not lived up to the hype. That’s not intended to rip the Cavaliers’ second-round pick, it’s just been the case so far.

Emoni Bates

Bates was considered a Kevin Durant-type coming out of high school. He went to the University of Memphis with high expectations. That didn’t work out. He sometimes looked disinterested. He was accused of doing little beyond standing by the 3-point line and calling for the ball.

There was some off-the-court stuff. Bates decided to transfer to Michigan State near his hometown of Ypsilanti. Though some say that was news to Michigan State. Eventually, he ended up at Eastern Michigan and the Mid-American Conference.

Bates went 1-of-12 shooting in a game against Akron this past season. If it weren’t for everyone watching him, you’d never know he was on the floor.

A few games later, he scored 43 against Toledo. It was the type of effortless performance that made Bates look like a lottery pick. But he’s never been able to sustain it. In the next game against Toledo, Bates scored four.

For the season, he averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds, shooting 41 percent from the floor.

The Cavs know all this. But they are focused on Bates’ upside. He is 6-foot-9 with a smoothness about him. The rest they can iron out. If he reaches his potential, he will be a steal at No. 49. If not, it’s really a case of no-harm, no-foul as far as the Cavs are concerned.

Fans and media have been busy on social media predicting Bates’ future. Some are excited. Others have called him a “wasted pick.” But there’s no such thing in the second round. You either get lucky or you don’t. Very little skill is involved in landing the right man at No. 49. It’s a crapshoot.

The Cavs are trying their luck with a guy who seems to have all the tools. Does he have the desire? Perhaps playing with the likes of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will give him reason to really care. Maybe coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the veteran players can keep Bates motivated, push him in practice, show him that good things (and big money) come with the right approach and production.

Bates is getting an opportunity to quiet his critics in Cleveland. He may never be The Next Durant, but he can make a name for himself by becoming a real NBA contributor.

The Cavs see that. And if Bates ever does, look out. He has that type of ability. 

But if it doesn’t work out, and Bates ends up being the same player he was in college, what do you do? It was a low-risk, high-reward selection, and the Cavs felt it was worth a try. Hard to find fault with any of that.

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