Donovan Mitchell recently spoke very highly of Emoni Bates, expressing confidence that his recently drafted Cleveland Cavaliers teammate will excel when called upon.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Mitchell said of Bates in an interview with Bleacher Report. “He’s very talented, especially on the offensive end. He’s a guy who is committed to the work. I’ve seen it. The biggest thing now is just finding ways to get adjusted to the NBA. It’s a different game. He’s going to be able to wait his turn and be patient with the process. When his time comes, he’s going to be ready. I have no doubt.”
Bates was a second-round choice in the 2023 NBA Draft that was held Thursday. His on-court ability has rarely been in question as he was highly touted in high school and an expected star when he went to the University of Memphis to play college ball.
A back injury contributed to a disappointing freshman season at Memphis, and Bates then transferred closer to home to Eastern Michigan University for the 2022-23 campaign. However, before playing for the school, he was suspended due to felony gun charges that were later dropped.
The 19-year-old responded with a solid season for Eastern Michigan, averaging 19.2 points per game. Despite his improved play and previously heralded reputation, he could not work his way into the first round of the draft, and the Cavaliers were able to grab him with the 49th overall pick. In fact, one NBA player said Bates is the best player in the class.
The gun charges may have scared off some teams, particularly in the wake of the controversy surrounding Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. The NBA has proven it has little tolerance for such events, suspending Morant for the first 25 games of next season following his second social media display with a firearm.
Cleveland undoubtedly will work very hard with Bates, who could become an important player sooner than expected. The Cavs are reportedly seeking a “significant upgrade” in their frontcourt, and Isaac Okoro and Cedi Osman could be traded.
That’s where Bates could come in, having made a good impression in the predraft process. The Cavs are going to need more offense after it failed them in a five-game series loss to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.
Mitchell and Bates exchanged positive messages following the draft, so it looks like the new teammates are off to a good start, and there likely is no better person for the youngster to learn from than the Cavs’ franchise player.