Based on prospect pedigree, the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have gotten away with highway robbery when they selected Emoni Bates with the 49th pick of the 2023 NBA Draft. Bates’ stock has fallen ever since he entered college as one of the most hyped-up prospects in the country, but the Cavs evidently believed in Bates’ innate talent, and it looks like it has a chance of paying off in a huge way.

On Thursday night, in a preseason tilt against the Orlando Magic, Bates showcased the immense talent he has in scoring the basketball. In 12 minutes of action, the small forward out of Eastern Michigan scored 12 points, nailing three threes and hauling in three boards. And some of those points did not come easy; he drained one stepback triple and he nailed a contested catch-and-shoot three off a screen to go along with a smooth transition dunk and a silky smooth uncontested catch-and-shoot trey.

Thus, it’s no surprise to see Cavs star Donovan Mitchell express his admiration for Emoni Bates, especially after showing out against the Magic.

“Youngin like that!! @BatesEmoni,” Mitchell wrote on his official Twitter (X) account.

Emoni Bates fell in draft boards due to his perceived lack of defensive impact courtesy of his lackluster physical measurements, and in Eastern Michigan, Bates resorted to too many difficult shots. In the NBA, there was simply no way Bates was going to carve out a long career for himself as the go-to-guy given what he showed in college. But with the Cavs, Bates has a real shot of becoming a rotation player in the future.

As Bates showed against the Magic, he has a repeatable smooth stroke from beyond the arc, which means that he can provide spacing for Donovan Mitchell and company. The Cavs, after all, are in need of shooters. And it looks like the 19-year old forward can adapt to more of an off-ball role, which bodes well for his chances of getting some meaningful game time in his rookie year.

But at the moment, fans must temper their expectations despite all the optimism, as Bates will have to usurp a few veterans just to crack a loaded Cavs rotation.