The Cleveland Cavaliers got a rather interesting player in the 2023 NBA Draft after they used the 49th pick to take former no. 1 recruit Emoni Bates.
Bates was once considered the no. 1 prospect coming out of high school, but a tumultuous time with Memphis basketball marred with injury and off-court controversy saw his stock fall over the years. So from being a projected Top 5 player, he ended up going down as a second-round pick.
At no. 49, however, the Cavs certainly took a low-risk, high-reward gamble by taking Bates. He was once compared to Kevin Durant, and there’s no denying that he can score. Las January against the Toledo Rockets, he scored 29 straight points for Eastern Michigan. Even Los Angeles Lakers star and former Cavs leader LeBron James couldn’t help but call him a “killer” for his rather insane performance.
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Of course taking Emoni Bates comes with plenty of baggage stemming from his time in Memphis. For those unaware, he really struggled with the Tigers and averaged just 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in only 18 games, missing plenty of time due to a back injury. Things got worse for him when he was sentenced in December 2022 to 18 months of probation due to his shocking arrest on felony gun charges in September of the same year.
Hopefully, though, Bates won’t bring unnecessary distractions for the Cavs in their attempt to become title contenders. All those issues from college will surely be major talking points as he starts his NBA career, but perhaps the Wine and Gold can help him grow and mature as he tries to live up to his potential.