Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have some breathing room after the Donovan Mitchell extension, their most urgent order of business is to fortify their talent on the wing. Emoni Bates is one of the Cavs’ in-house options who is eager to prove himself worthy of playing time under new head coach Kenny Atkinson.

While Bates is currently lower on the pecking order behind the likes of Max Strus (at the very least) at the small forward spot, he should have a shot at earning playing time in his second season. If Isaac Okoro ends up signing elsewhere, Bates will have a clearer path to playing time, though it won’t be totally just for him to pick up.

One of the biggest parts of Bates’ offseason plan has been to bulk up, according to Ethan Sands of Bates has the long frame to be an impactful, versatile player but is still too much of a string bean to play consistently, even though he still has plenty of skill.

“Since I’ve been here, I gained 26 pounds,” Bates said, via “I was 170 when I got here, I’m 196 now. So, I mean, that was a huge jump for me. And I feel it when I play now. I just can’t wait to show it.”

Bates will have the chance to show off his new frame in the Las Vegas Summer League. He will most likely be one of their go-to players as they face other rosters of youngsters, starting with their playoff rival Orlando Magic on Friday. Watching how he defends and plays through contact will show how much more impactful his added muscle is.

Emoni Bates looking to make bigger impact in second season with Cavs

Bates spent most of his rookie campaign in the G League, working behind the scenes after some rocky seasons in college. The otherworldly hype he once had as a prospect is gone. But he still has a solid shot at becoming a valuable NBA contributor.

The Cavs drafting Jaylon Tyson with the 20th overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft shows their desire to add more surefire talent on the wing. The Cal product is a polished scorer on the wing and has a stocky frame, though he is still a bit older than Bates and not as long in either height or wingspan. With the Cavs not having much time to wait around, it seems as though, from the outset of the season, Tyson might have a better chance to play.

The Cavs still need to make a lot of progress so they don’t have to do the same dance with Mitchell again in a few years. They also have to convince Jarrett Allen, whose contract extends only through the next two seasons, to stick around. So, they might also try to swing a trade for a high-level wing. It’s tough to tell who or when that will happen, though names like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Cam Johnson stick out as possibilities. In that scenario, Bates is likely to be included in a trade.

However, for the time being, Emoni Bates is part of a Cavs team looking for more production out of their forward room. If he can step up this season, Cleveland could really start making some noise.