Former Cavs hero says NBA teams will rue listening to ‘chatter’ and passing on ‘special’ Emoni Bates

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers chose forward Emoni Bates with the No. 49 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Former Cavaliers hero Daniel Gibson thinks that NBA teams are going to regret listening to “chatter” and passing on the “special” rookie.

“Special, special,” Gibson told Cavs Insider about Bates. “I say it every day: Teams are gonna really regret passing on ’em. [They were] basically listening to the chatter because the moment he walked in the gym, he wanted to outwork everybody, came in with a chip on his shoulder.

“The best part about Emoni is he wants to learn. He’s here to learn and get better. A lot of the talk was that he wasn’t gonna be a good teammate, and it’s been the complete opposite man. He’s a great kid and I think he’ll have a chance to play in this league for a long time.”

Gibson then went on to say that he thinks Bates will prove his doubters wrong during his NBA career.

“I told him: Some guys are meant to have that story where you’re the No. 1, the top pick or whatever — but it’s an even better story when you can come in the second round and then show guys if you don’t quit and you keep being about the right things, you can prove everybody wrong,” Gibson said. “And I think he’ll prove a lot of people wrong for a lot of years to come.”

Bates was widely believed to be one of the best high school players in the nation in his class but massively underperformed during his first season of college basketball. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.6 steals per contest in 18 games played with the University of Memphis during the 2021-22 season (13 starts).

Following his underwhelming one-season stint with the Tigers, the 6-foot-9 forward transferred to Eastern Michigan University. Bates starred during his time as a member of the Eagles, seeing as how he averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 40.5 percent from the field during the 2022-23 season.

Meanwhile, Gibson was selected with the No. 42 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and spent all seven seasons of his NBA career with the Cavaliers franchise. He averaged 7.8 points and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 40.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc across 397 regular season games played with Cleveland (77 starts).

Arguably Gibson’s best season in his time with the Cavaliers came during the 2007-08 season. He averaged 10.4 points, 2.5 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game in 58 appearances with the team during the regular season.

The Cavaliers were led by LeBron James that season and wound up getting eliminated by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and the Boston Celtics in seven games in the second round of the 2008 playoffs. Boston went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals to win the title.

Bates is seemingly already on track to make NBA teams regret passing on him in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft, considering he has scored 10-plus points in both of the Cavaliers’ preseason games thus far.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.